Why to Hire Us Instead of
Doing it Yourself
Our office recently received a phone call from a prospective client, asking why he should use our firm, as opposed to LegalZoom, RocketLawyer or another "do-it-yourself", online document preparation service. It shocked us that someone could even compare our services to those entities. It even surprises us when prospects phone our office in order to contrast our fees with the rest of the lawyers in our community. Unlike most estate planning firms, we do not see the production of documents as our goal. Rather, we see ourselves as your long-term trusted advisor, ensuring that you always have a plan in place that reflects your needs, goals, health, wealth and values, and one that will actually work when the time inevitably arrives.
Lara M. Sass, PLLC designs customized estate plans, unique to each individual's family circumstances, wealth and values, that ensure that, upon our client's possible incapacity and eventual death, his or her family and loved ones will not be unnecessarily burdened by the courts, confusion or conflict. We save our high net worth clients hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in estate taxes. We constantly keep our clients apprised of changes in the law, and help them to capitalize on unseen opportunities and to avoid unforeseen problems. Clients hire us to render sophisticated advice regarding how to structure their estates, title their assets and plan for the succession of their businesses, not to draft "one size fits all" documents. After all, the content and structure of estate planning documents depends strictly on an individual's unique financial and family circumstances and on their goals. This requires the personal attention and advice of an experienced Trusts and Estates attorney.
Because the gift, estate and income tax laws are in a constant state of flux, document preparation websites cannot guarantee that the information on the site is current, nor can they apprise their users of changes in the law that affect documents that have already been created. No general information or legal tool like the kind these websites provide can fit every individual or circumstance. These websites are not law firms; they are not attorneys practicing law or rendering legal advice to their users. They are simply "do-it-yourself" services, whereby the user responds to an online questionnaire, which results in the production of a form document. The tax consequences that result from answering a question in a particular way, or from choosing a certain estate plan, are never disclosed, much less explored. The user may think that he or she just needs a simple Will, but may very well require more than that in order to protect his or assets, minor children, disabled family members, and other loved ones. Again, only a qualified estate planning attorney can advise an individual with respect to these critical decisions.
Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. You don't want to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your family's future. Although it might cost more up front to hire a competent attorney to create your estate plan, think about the thousands of dollars you and your family will save when the time comes by avoiding unnecessary probate costs and taxes. Using a "do-it-yourself" service, where there is no attorney-client relationship and you represent yourself in any legal matter you undertake, is ripe with traps for the unwary. Furthermore, the forms produced by these websites will inevitably be ineffective in allowing you to ultimately accomplish your legal, tax and personal goals.
Likewise, using an attorney who charges substantially less for an estate plan, merely because it will save you some money, will likely not result in adequate protection of your assets and your loved ones. Estate planning is not about producing a form; it is about the invaluable counseling and advice that is provided before drafting an informed, customized document. Without it, the pieces of paper produced by document preparation websites and inadequate attorneys are useless. When planning your estate, nothing is more expensive than hiring a cheap attorney.
We like to compare an excellent Trusts and Estates attorney to a luxury car -- you may pay more, but you end up getting a sophisticated product that runs smoothly and will actually protect your family, backed by top-notch customer service. In the end, estate planning is not something you do for yourself. It is a gift you provide for those you love. At Lara M. Sass, PLLC, we deliver the highest quality legal representation, as well as the finest customer service possible.