In September 2012 Consumer Reports reviewed several legal websites. Here is an excerpt and you can link to the full story below on ConsumerReports.org
For a fraction of what you’d pay a lawyer, websites such as LegalZoom, Nolo, and Rocket Lawyer can help you create your own will, power of attorney, and other important legal documents. But can they really save you a visit to a lawyer?
The verdict. Using any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple—say, you want to leave your entire estate to your spouse—none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs. And in some cases, the other documents aren’t specific enough or contain language that could lead to “an unintended result,” in Silber’s words.
Until you have tried to use these legal tools, you probably haven’t thought much about them. I have a durable power of attorney (POA) — yet many of my parents’ financial institutions refused to accept the document because it was over 2 years old. You really don’t want to find this out when you need it. Luckily, we could address this and got a new one before we had no other options. Before I had the new durable POA, my dad helped and we setup online access to the key accounts.
Find someone who solely practices Estate Law to ensure the likelihood that your documents will survive the coming years and rule changes. You would not visit the family doctor for open heart surgery, you would find a cardiologist. Consider using that same principle when it comes to getting your estate planning documents done. Some laws vary State by State.
Sometimes the rain has to fall to get Chicken Little to squeak — I hope the thunderstorm that has fallen on my family will help you or your loved ones avoid the same fate. Chirp-Chirp.