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Do we need an attorney to prepare our "wills" or is Legal zoom's $79 comprehensive will sufficient?

Staten Island, NY |

Husband and wife, no prior marriages and no children other than the ones between us both. None of our children has any special needs, none are under 21, and it seems fairly straight-forward that our children split everything equally.

Our long-time "family" attorney wants more than 10 times that fee and insists he will do a better job. I want an outside opinion.

Attorney Answers 11


  1. I would never rely on a computer program. Who are you dealing with? Who can you ask questions?

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at Eric@RothsteinLawNY.com. I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


  2. Legalzoom.com is good for preparing simple wills where no will contest is anticipated. In your case, therefore, it will probably be sufficient. You might wish to have your attorney supervise the execution ceremony, though, to ensure New York's complex procedures are followed.

    I am only licensed to practice law in New York, so this is just general educational information. You will need to contact a local attorney to attain information that pertains to your specific circumstances. No attorney-client relationship exists between us.


  3. Estate planning is much more than just words on paper. An experienced and qualified attorney can help your family save thousands of dollars and hours of aggravation.


  4. Spend the money and have the will prepared and executed under the supervision of an attorney.
    You should also have Health Care Proxies and Powers of Attorney. What if one of your children predeceases you both? Do you want grandchildren to inherit? If they are in their minority , their share should go into a trust. Who should be trustee? What should the terms of the trust be? What is the size of your estate? Are there potential estate taxes- if not federal than state? Do you have a family history of parkinson's or alzheimers so that you are concerned with end of life care? Perhaps you should do some medicaid planning? With Legalzoom, you are not getting the experience of an attorney to ask you the right questions.

    My firm is a second generation family firm successfully handling personal injury and medical malpractice cases for over 35 years. "Let Our Family Help Your Family" www.kileylawfirm.com 516 466-7900


  5. You pay for what you get. A program can not offer advice. There are many factors in preparing a will and related documents such as health care proxy, living wills, power of attorney, and trusts. It depends on a variety of factors the least of which is the size of the estate for Federal and state purposes and what if anyone predeceases the testator. In short see a lawyer.

    If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.


  6. When you eat out, do you prefer fast food or a real restaurant?

    Do you prefer a one-size fits all, order by number, you stand in line, seat yourself, and clean-up after yourself in a cafeteria atmosphere where nobody cares if you ever come back? Nobody knows what's in the food and forget about "special" requests. (You might leave feeling temporarily satisfied but you'll probably have a stomach ache later.)

    Or, do you prefer to be seated, waited upon, and eat something that's been prepared for you to your specifications, served to you, and where someone cleans up for you, in a comfortable environment where they hope you'll return? It may cost 10 times as much, but isn't it worth it?

    Retain the family attorney, pay the fee, and have the will properly tailored to your precise situation. This is not the place in your life to try to save money.

    My answer is for general purposes only and is not not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, nor is it advice upon which you should act or rely. But, if you really want me to tell you something upon which you can actually rely: don't eat yellow snow.


  7. Some people would say yes, but I say you get what you pay for.

    The issue with estate planning are not the questions that are asked. They are the questions that are not asked. Only a trained, experienced Estate Planning lawyer can see an identify the issues for you.

    The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.


  8. One of the least enjoyable parts of my practice is telling a client that the create-your-own legal documents he or she bought over the internet were a waste of money, and totally inapplicable to the situation at hand (mostly because I have to bill more to fix the problems created by the over-the-internet documents). Create-your-own legal document mills are generally not law firms, and there is likely no warranty if something goes wrong. You'll get better value hiring an attorney to make an estate plan tailored to your situation.

    This communication is intended only to provide general information. No attorney-client relationship is created.


  9. It might be better than nothing, but I have also seen "simple" wills become incredibly complicated because unforeseen matters arose after death. So in certain cases, it might actually be worse than nothing. I would have a serious discussion with your long-time family attorney regarding the fees.


  10. I have a cough and a low grade fever. It is probably nothing important. Should I Google for medical advice or spend a few dollars and see my doctor?

    I don't mean to be flip, but it really is just that simple. Often clients who come to see me thinking that they don't really need a lawyer's help are the ones I end up helping the most. It really comes down to getting to know your clients and your craft exceedingly well. When that happens, in law as in most other areas, a personal consultant can make all the difference to his or her client, as well as to the client's loved ones. It also creates a bond that may become essential in the future when circumstances may become less simple or straightforward.


  11. There is always a risk using blank forms. Does it comply with NYS Wills and Estates law? Did you know that you must have two disinterested witnesses subscribe to your will? A simple will shouldn't cost 10 times what you quoted the Legalzoom price to be.

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