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Online Legal Services vs Your Local Attorney

by | Mar 25, 2020 | Business Law, Elder Law, Estate Planning

So, you are in “self-quarantine” or practicing “social distancing” but you have legal matters to address. What do you do – call a local lawyer or go online for services? Online legal services are a popular tool designed to save time and money, but are they a good idea and do you really save anything? When should you call a local attorney instead?

Online legal services, to be distinguished from a virtual law firm, are actually document preparation services that complete legal forms with information you supply. Online legal services may seem less expensive but the consequences of creating simple documents or documents with errors can be significant. In most cases hiring a local attorney is best and here’s why:

Online services can make document creation seem simple but the questions that determine what document or which option aren’t. A lawyer can advise you what choice is correct for your particular circumstance; an online website cannot. Mistakes will need to be corrected, and that can cost more than the initial document. Sitting down with a local attorney and creating documents designed to hold up over time can save you money over the long-term.

The term “online legal services” is a misnomer. Companies that offer online documents are not law firms and they can not provide legal advice. Even if you do “retain” legal services through the online service provider, you will not establish a long-term relationship with a professional who can assist you over time. Trust is crucial when seeking legal advice and services for yourself or your business, and it is easier to build that trust when you work with a local attorney in your community rather than bouncing between sales reps or clicking a series of boxes.

Laws vary widely from state to state. This is particularly true of Estate Planning and Probate laws. Having an attorney that practices in your community and is familiar with the specific nuances of local laws can help avoid many headaches and additional legal fees down the road.
Every person and every estate is different. Generic documents cannot accommodate your individuality and specific needs. Online services cannot look at the big picture and delve into your estate to identify needs that you have not considered and anticipate how your actions will affect your family and beneficiaries. An experienced Estate Planning attorney can see situations from many different angles and can counsel you to determine the best course of action for you and your family.

Overall, online legal services can help with very black and white tasks but they are less effective when gray areas are involved. In all but the most simplistic cases, an online legal service increases the possibility of missing out on important information which can result in needing to spend more time and money down the road or losing out on money all together.

The attorneys at Akin Law live in your community and are here to help you during these uncertain and stressful times. Give us a call and let us help you with your legal matters. Attorneys can “meet” with you over the phone or Skype and most legal matters can be handled with minimal, if any, face to face contact while our current public health crisis is still present. Call us today at 386-271-4740 to schedule an appointment