USE OF SOFTWARE PROGRAMS THAT GENERATE LEGAL FORMS CAN COST YOU FAR MORE THAN YOU SAVE
When I watch television I frequently see former O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Shapiro shilling for his company Legalzoom.com that prepares form legal documents for a highly discounted fee. These easy and inexpensive legal forms, however come at a price, you pay for the form and you fill it out yourself. There is no one to advise you if this form meets your particular need and circumstances or complies with the laws of your state.
FORM WILLS CAUSE PROBLEMS IN GEORGIA
In Georgia the step most likely to cause a Will to be invalidated is the failure to properly execute the Will. According to Roger Kirschenbaum, the estate planning attorney at my firm, “a valid Will in Georgia must have the correct number of witnesses who must be present at the same time and actually see you sign the Will.” Roger further states “If a witness is also a beneficiary of under the Will, then that witness may either be disqualified from receiving the bequest under the Will or not count in the number of witnesses necessary to make the Will validly executed.” Improperly executing the Will can also complicate the process of probating the Will resulting in additional expense that negates the cost savings from using the cheaper form. One of the ways our firm helps you save money is by making sure your estate planning documents are properly executed so that you may avoid the additional expense of a complicated probate process or even the probate fight that can ensue from an improperly executed Will that cannot be probated.
While software and pre-printed forms may seemingly save you money upfront, there are risks of significant pitfalls that may make a software produced or pre-printed Will invalid and of no use despite your intentions. The costs of your family dealing with a poorly drafted or improperly executed Will may not be worth what you think you are saving in not hiring a competent attorney to draft your Will.
As always your trusted advisor for practical legal advice.
Justin S. Daniels, Esq., MBA
Wagner, Johnston & Rosenthal, P.C.
5855 Sandy Springs, Circle, Suite 300
Atlanta, Georgia 30328-4834
(404) 835-5260, phone
(404) 835-5160, fax
(404) 229-6847, cell