Sorry if you received the earlier accidental posting! I wasn't done and it was a mistake!
Anyway, I mentioned in a previous post that you should beware when hearing advice that legal self-help is a good idea. An article on realsimple.com illustrates the point. A key employee for NOLO suggests that legal self-help is OK: "You can often handle the tasks involved in buying or selling real estate just with the help of other professionals traditionally involved in the process." Well why not? NOLO sells legal self-help materials! The problem with this is that these professionals are not licensed to practice law. So while they can give you advice on buying and selling real estate, they cannot advise you on any laws that might apply to ownership, land use, taxes, and other areas of law. If they did give you legal advice, you couldn't rely on it, and you'd have no recourse if you got bad advice. I believe it is a much better idea to pay a feww hundred to a few thousand dollars to get the advice of an attorney that you can rely upon to be current with applicable laws. You can probably factor the cost into your mortgage application.
A good rule to live by is to always see who is advising what, and ask yourself what is in it for them. Why would someone who sells DIY legal kits say that you don't need a lawyer? For that matter, why would a lawyer say that you DO need a lawyer? Can they justify what they are saying, despite the apparent self-interest?
I've been reading that there are also certain scams being pulled in the estate planning discounts world. You might remember that I posted a story about a job my husband used to do until her realized he was working for a company that was scamming people into buying wills and trusts. Two weeks after my husband quit, the Feds came and shut the place down. It looks like these companies shut down and then reopen under new names. So, just beware if you get a phone call asking if you have a will or a trust.
The point of this post is that you should be proactive and safe when it comes to legal matters. Attorneys get a bad rap, but we are held to high ethical standards and we take them seriously. We are required to carry malpractice insurance, and there is definite recourse for clients if something goes wrong. This is not true for cheaper ways of dealing with legal matters.
And when it comes to your estate, you really don't want to leave it to your loved ones to find out that you have a plan that doesn't work, and that there is no recourse because you took the advice of a non-lawyer or used a DIY kit.
To your family's health & prosperity,