Internet Self-Help Sites-Good, Bad and Ugly

Richard Mayberry is an estate planning and elder law futurist who studies and teaches various law practice models.  Richard Mayberry does not endorse or warrant the use of Nolo, or LegalZoom or any other online legal services provider, or "e-lawyer" do it yourself tools or software. Mayberry discloses he is listed in the Nolo directory.  The person who drafts estate planning or elder law-whether lawyer or non-lawyer- is responsible for the outcome of the legal work.

The consumer trend of "doing it yourself" evolved with access to the internet.Every legal instrument is complex; flaws easy to make and expensive to fix if they can be cured at all.

Future court decisions will be instructive on the ability of all internet to provider legal services on the web.

The hard question for this writer is: All Virginia lawyers are required to take 18 hours of continuing legal education and 2 hours of ethics each year to stay on top of legal developments in our respective fields of law practice. Add to this 30+ years of experience.

How many hours should a consumer spend mastering the law of Virginia on trusts, estates or elder law before doing their own will or trust? Read Virginia law on Wills and Estates as a starting point before you start to draft your will. Mark Twain, from the 1800s, is often quoted to the effect only a fool serves as his own lawyer. The question is not if, but what year, artificial intelligence and technology, will knock some holes in this old adage that most lawyers have follow for over a hundred years when they need legal work done for themselves or their family.
Protect Your Family 

If you use content from this or any other website on the internet to do your own estate plan without a lawyer you alone accept full responsibility for your work. Use a local, experienced estate planning and elder law attorney for your family legal matters-No exceptions. Your family is too important to take a chance in getting it wrong.The Future

The Future is change; change is adaptive and new techniques will bring legal services to a wider group of consumer. Two current/future trents:
  • Consumers using local lawyers to review wills prepared by the consumer on the internet, and 
  • On site providers providing  a directory to local lawyers to use for choice if one does not want to do it himself. 
Break-through advances in artificial intelligence to respond to the fact that wills and trusts are different in different states and state laws are constantly changing as well as no child within a family is the same let alone among different families could temper my personal opinion.In addition, it would be helpful for the consumer to committee to self-study and not just looking to click the mouse to create a will. Reading legal books written in plain English, taking an adult education course on wills, trusts, estate planning or elder law to understand the basic terms and how probate works would be large steps forward.
If you are committed to "doing it yourself", you might try Nolo has provided excellent legal information in plain English to the consumer for many years. An apparent relationship with Quicken raises one's comfort level.

Mayberry discloses he is listed in the Nolo lawyer's directory.