Aging couple consulting with an estate planning attorney

Why Use an Estate Planning Attorney
Instead of Online Forms?

Law Offices of David W. Wilcox April 8, 2022

These days, it feels like you can do anything online. From researching products to banking to taking college courses, there seems to be no end to what you can accomplish from your home computer. But, just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it. Never has this been more true than when it comes to your estate plan.

You may have seen ads online for easy-to-use estate planning forms, but you should be very wary of these. What happens with your estate is one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make that has a very real impact on your heirs. Because of this, you should only trust an experienced estate planning attorney for this task.

At the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox, you'll get professional and personable legal assistance, ensuring every part of your estate plan is legally binding and exactly how you want it. If you’re in or around Bradenton, Florida, including Matinee County or Sarasota County, call today to schedule a consultation.

Why Estate Planning Is Important

A comprehensive estate plan includes more than just a list of assets and beneficiaries. It could also contain guardianship designations, trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare powers of attorney, detailed information about your debts, and a designated administrator.

Estate planning is both for your present peace of mind and for your family’s legacy. By taking the time now to get your affairs in order, you’ll save your loved ones time, money, and stress. It’s hard enough to see someone you love pass away; to add on top of that an incomplete or insufficient estate plan makes it all the more difficult.

An estate plan helps your beneficiaries minimize their tax burden, ensures your assets and wealth are going exactly where you want, names a guardian for any minor-age child you have, outlines your medical wishes for end-of-life care should you become incapacitated or unable to communicate, and helps your heirs avoid the lengthy and costly process of probate.

Online Forms vs. Estate Planning Attorney

There are dozens of estate planning online forms, and it can be overwhelming looking through all your options and trying to decide which (if any) are credible. Only an attorney who has had in-depth discussions with you about your estate and your wishes can adequately advise you on the right path and make sure everything is done correctly. Beware of the following pitfalls you could encounter if you draft an estate plan online.


Most estate planning forms are not state-specific and won’t educate you about how state law will affect your planning. A local attorney will be knowledgeable about state-specific requirements and can help you avoid common mistakes or take advantage of Florida laws that could benefit you.

Making Modifications

Estate plans tend to be very long because they cover so many aspects of your life. Trying to make modifications to these forms is a laborious task, and one simple mistake can change the entire estate plan.

Getting the Right Advice

Without an experienced professional guiding you, every legally-binding decision you make will be solely up to you. An online estate planning template will only give you basic guidance about what should be filled in at each step. It doesn't know your individual situation and can’t provide legal counsel so you can make more informed decisions as an attorney will. An attorney can also provide tax guidance and let you know the implications of your choices and the tax liability of your heirs.

When Disputes Arise

Unfortunately, even with a well-written estate plan, disputes can arise due to family in-fighting. When a dispute over a decedent’s estate plan arises, the court will often accept the counsel of your attorney to sort out the disagreement. Your attorney will have a deep understanding of the documents and will be able to speak knowledgeably about your wishes. An online form cannot perform this function.

Keeping Your Documentation Safe

Finally, an attorney will retain a copy of your estate plan for safekeeping, and your administrator and beneficiaries will have a point of contact should they need assistance. With online estate planning programs, there is little to no accountability.

Hiring an Experienced Florida Estate
Planning Attorney

Thinking about estate planning can be overwhelming. After all, nobody likes to think about their own mortality. It can be tempting to use one of these online forms to get it done quickly and cheaply, but by doing this, you’ll be leaving your heirs in an uncertain and unpleasant position. They will be the ones who have to navigate your estate and try their best to tease out your wishes from a second-rate estate plan. Make their lives and your own easier by calling the Law Offices of David W. Wilcox in Bradenton, Florida.