Every so often I am asked what I think about websites that help people draft "do-it-yourself" documents, such as wills and business formation documents. I almost always respond the same way. If you were sick - and I mean really sick to the point where there could be serious consequences if you don't get help - would you self-diagnose with the help of an online website, or would you go see a doctor? Then sometimes I share some of the pitfalls of "DIY" law work, such as the potential to disinherit yourself if you serve as one of the witnesses to an otherwise valid will. There's another aspect, though. Why are you trying to do it yourself? Most people tell me that it's because they are trying to save money. Here's the thing, though - the cost usually isn't all that different. I looked at the cost of forming a limited liability company with one of the major "DIY" companies. The prices ranged from about $250 on the low end to about $560 on the high end, depending on what services you chose. The thing is, the fee that I would charge you for the exact same work is within that range! Plus as part of that same fee I'll sit down with you if you want and help make sure you know what to do next. What really surprised me is all of the unnecessary add-ons that the DIY company tried to sell me, some of which it seemed like they were trying to scare me into buying. Now I'm not saying that you should never use one of the DIY websites. Most of the time you're probably going to get a document that does at least most of what you want it to, and that's probably a lot better than having nothing at all. But I would encourage you to compare the cost. Are you really even saving anything?
Please remember that these posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. If you are ever in doubt about your rights under the law, you should consult an attorney familiar with the law in your area.
Ben Bauer is a Cincinnati-based attorney who writes about things in law and life that he finds interesting.