Problems with Internet-based Estate Planning Services

Problems with Internet-based Estate Planning Services:  Saving money by utilizing an internet-based estate planning service, such as LegalZoom, may ultimately cost consumers more money and angst.   A class action suit, filed in California by Katherine Webster, as Executor of the estate of Anthony Ferrantino and Trustee of the Anthony J. Ferrantino Living Trust, alleges that the service’s promises are largely negated in a disclaimer, which is deeply inbedded in the website and written in small print, full of legalese.   The suit alleges further that the internet-based estate planning service offers no attorney support, and fails to identify the complicated problems that cannot be handled by the service.  While stating that the estate planning documents can be customized to fit the individual’s needs, the only true customization is related to the customer’s name and other identifying information.

From a review of the available information concerning this lawsuit, the most troubling allegation is that the Living trust, which the decedent created on LegalZoom, was not capable of being funded because the financial institution did not accept LegalZoom documents.  The executor ultimately was required to retain an attorney to remedy the flaws in the estate planning documents prepared through the internet-based estate planning service.

Given the current economy, it might seem prudent to save money by preparing form estate planning documents, such as simple Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney, through an internet-based estate planning service.  However, individuals are just that – individual, and each presents with different needs and wishes.  Only an experienced estate planning attorney can provide you with the necessary advice and counsel, and ultimately provide the appropriate estate planning documents for carrying out the requested plan.

Consumers beware:  The problems with  internet-based estate planning services may far outweigh any potential financial savings.

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For more information or to contact Christine C. Karr

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