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Candice N. Aiston

  • Aiston Law LLC
  • 205 SE Spokane Street, Suite 300
  • Portland, Oregon 97202
  • (503) 235-5150
  • Candice@CandiceAistonLaw.com

Aiston Law LLC

  • At Aiston Law LLC, we help families who want to make things as easy as possible for their loved ones in life and in death. As a Mom, I know that parents want to preserve their hard-earned wealth, but that we want to pass on so much more than material wealth! We want to make sure that our kids are always with the right people, that they have everything they need to pursue their dreams, and that they know what our values are and how fiercely we love them. As a Future Retiree, I know that we all want to have worry-free golden years where we can enjoy travel, recreation, and spending time with our kids and grandkids. As a Daughter, I know that adult children worry about their parents, and want to make sure they will have the care they need in their elder years. Worrying about these things can be overwhelming, but you deserve peace of mind, and we’re here to help you to get it.

Disclaimer

  • The information in this blog is not legal advice, and your use of it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any liability that might arise from your use or reliance on this blog or any links from this blog is expressly disclaimed. This blog is not legal advice, is not to be acted on as such, may not be current and is subject to change without notice. Candice N. Aiston is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon only. In accordance with rules established by the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct, this web site must be labeled "advertising." It is designed to provide general information for clients and friends of the firm and should not be construed as legal advice, or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.
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« Wednesday Web Wrap-Up | Main | 3 Things Attorneys Can Learn from LegalZoom »

May 11, 2010

Comments

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Rania Combs

Many people use LegalZoom because they think that the documents LegalZoom creates will be just as effective as those created by an attorney. What they don't realize is that the devil is in the details.

Unlike LegalZoom, attorneys don't just fill in forms. Rather, they draw upon their years of schooling and experience to advice clients about the best way to protect their families and preserve and distribute their assets in the manner they choose.

LegalZoom doesn't offer advice. According to LegalZoom's own disclaimer:

1. The employees of LegalZoom are not acting as your attorney.

2. LegalZoom's legal document service is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

3. LegalZoom does not review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation.

4. The legal information on LegalZoom's website is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.

So when people use LegalZoom, they do so at their own risk. And risk does not equate to peace of mind.

Candice Aiston

Thanks for the comment, Rania. I wonder how effective that disclaimer is when LegalZoom has attorney testimonials all over the website! (I bet they're not Estate Planning attorneys.)

Have you seen Greg Luce's blog? He posted a video of himself filling out the LegalZoom questionnaire to prepare a will. The next step is that he's going to compare it to having an attorney prepare a will for him. You can see tons of holes in his plan.

It's interesting though, because he's letting his non-attorney wife handle finding an attorney, as part of the experiment. She's very much into the idea of just going with LegalZoom. A biggie for her is that she doesn't want to take the time to see an attorney. They also don't want to pay attorney fees.

Here's the link to his three entries on the matter: http://practiceblawg.com/category/estate-planning/

Janice

Great blog! I'm a big DIY proponent of some legal work, but estate planning is, IMHO, tricky and rarely can a "one-size-fits-all" mentality address the complexities and variables involved for each family.

What a shame though that people consider legal services so very expensive. That is, of course, because they are - and this is how LegalZoom gets a foot in the door to offer services that may or may not be the best thing.

Candice Aiston

Hi Janice, thanks for your comment. I agree that cost is probably the biggest reason for the success of LegalZoom. I think that people need to be smart and cautious consumers though. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

Bryan Texas Estate Planning Lawyer

Legal Zoom make sit very clear that they are not offering legal advice. Lawyers make it clear that are offering legal advice. It just seems so risky with the complexity of community property, probate and estate tax laws, not to mention special needs trust, children's trust etc., that a person would want to take that risk and not seek out legal advice. I agree that LZ's own testimonials make it clear that the individuals involved are totally uprotected, but are blissfully unaware of the risk that they have voluntarily placed themselves into all because they wanted to save a few dollars.

Candice Aiston

Thanks for your comment, Bryan. Unfortunately, I don't think the public knows what it means when LZ says they aren't offering legal advice. It's kind of like any contract people sign where they read, "Blah, blah, blah," and skip to the signature line.

Gabriel Cheong

Very good article. Have you tried using the Suze Orman kit or the LegalZoom kits? I haven't tried LZ yet but I have a copy of Suze Orman's kit. I love her but I find it disturbing that she tells everyone to get a Revocable Trust. Not everyone needs one and most people don't know what it really means to have one.

I've written two posts about fill in the form stuff:
http://boston-estate-planning.com/will/why-fill-in-forms-suck-part-1-over-the-counter-formed-wills/

http://boston-estate-planning.com/power-of-attorney/why-fill-in-forms-suck-part-3-power-of-attorney/

Candice Aiston

Thanks for your comment, Gabriel. I liked your posts. They were really funny, and humor is much appreciated around these parts.

I haven't tried either of the kits. Where I practice law (Oregon), most of the clients I serve should really go with a trust-based plan. Although, most people call me and say, "I just need a simple will!" :)

Andrea

Great post, Candice! I read this last week before I noticed you mentioned Greg Luce in your comments. I work with him at the Minnesota State Bar Association and I also work as an estate planning attorney, so we've had some very interesting discussions in the office! This is a really tough issue from a perspective of how we market ourselves. You are doing a great job at articulating this. I'm on the same page where I don't think many of my clients have considered LegalZoom, yet I wonder how many LegalZoom clients have considered hiring a lawyer instead.

We haven't had a follow-up post on our blog recently, so I'm writing a post about the the LegalZoom class action lawsuit with links to some commentary (including your posts) at Practice Blawg. It'll be up later today or tomorrow morning.

I was just in Portland two weeks ago. It's a great city!

Candice

Hi Andrea! Thanks for the comment. I didn't realize that Practice Blawg is a group blog. It's a pretty great blog. I'll check out the post when it's up and I look forward to reading Greg's experience seeing an attorney!

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