Okay, I've played versions of this tune before. And yes, estate planning is a lot of how I feed my family. But I received an email from a Christian financial guru (who shall remain nameless) hawking yet another online do-it-yourself estate planning service and I just can't keep still. The pitch was, "Just answer a few questions and you'll have all your documents prepared just for you!" or some such. What these services don't tell you is that they can't answer legal questions for you or suggest a particular form or content that might fit your situation better. They can't ask clarifying questions in order to custom-tailor your documents to your needs. That's the unauthorized practice of law, which is illegal.
My response to the pitch, at the risk of sounding harsh: if you think you and your family are nothing special, that you have no unique concerns or questions, go ahead, pay a hundred bucks or so and do it. But how do you know what you don't know?
Estate planning attorneys know what questions to ask to elicit the information they need in order to fully analyze your situation and make recommendations on how you should protect your family and your stuff. Beyond that, an attorney can explain the documents, their effect, their limitations and how to implement the powers they provide. We tell all our estate planning clients that what we want most of all is for them to understand the documents we create for them and know how to use them when it's time.
Remember: there are four documents that, when you need them, it's too late to get them: a will, a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a directive to physicians, and you want them to address YOUR situation, not everybody else's. If you're serious about protecting your family, give strong consideration to sitting down with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss these documents and others - tailored to your particular situation - that will meet your needs.
As always, the above is legal information, not legal advice, and it's based on Texas law because I'm a Texas lawyer.
Musings, observations, the occasional whineage and some funny stuff.