In the age of the Internet, one of the questions I hear quite often as an estate planning lawyer is, "Can't I go online and draft my own estate plan?"  The answer is, "Yes, of course you can, but is that a good idea?"  A rough analogy is to ask whether, if your little daughter has a stomach ache, can you remove her appendix?  Of course you can, but wouldn't it be a good idea to consult a competent medical doctor (maybe even a specialist) to at least determine whether the appendix needs to come out?  And if it does, wouldn't it be a good idea to have the operation performed by a competent abdominal surgeon?

This morning I came across an interesting white paper published by ElderLaw Answers which reviews three popular online estate planning programs and concludes that all of the programs produce "good" documents, but all of them may overlook critical issues that could make a huge difference to you and your family.  The ultimate conclusion of the white paper is that if your choice is to use an online program or do nothing, you may want to use the online program.  On the other hand, if you want to be sure that you are taking the right steps for yourself and your family, you should seek the advice of a competent estate planning attorney.

You can find the white paper at

One Response to “Letting a Computer Plan Your Estate: Is It Worth the Risk?”

  1. James Campbell

    Great post! It always scares me when I hear commercials for these websites on the radio. I keep thinking they will say "but you should really call an attorney." at the end … … but it never happens.


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