There has been lot of hullabaloo in the news recently about Do-It-Yourself Wills and Estate Planning, most notably a debate on Forbes.com with articles presenting The Case For Do-It-Yourself Wills and The Case Against Do-It-Yourself Wills. Well, the state of Washington just weighed in on the subject with a settlement between the Washington Office of the Attorney General and Legal Zoom, a company that offers DIY legal documents online; and the ruling leaves no question as to where the Washington Attorney General stands in his opinion:
“’LegalZoom offers do-it-yourself legal documents online but can’t provide you with legal advice or tell you which forms to fill out,’ Attorney General Rob McKenna said.
Under a settlement with the Attorney General’s Office, LegalZoom can’t compare its costs to attorneys’ fees unless the company clearly discloses that its service isn’t a substitute for a law firm.
Simply selling legal forms doesn’t constitute the practice of law. LegalZoom can only provide an online form service that allows consumers to choose and complete their own legal documents, explained Consumer Protection Division Chief Doug Walsh.
The agreement filed today in Thurston County Superior Court also prohibits LegalZoom from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law, selling personal information obtained from Washington customers or misrepresenting the benefits of any estate distribution document.”
Regardless of your existing thoughts on the subject of DIY wills and estate planning, the comments and actions of the Washington Attorney General certainly provide food for thought.