Monday, July 2, 2012

Distraught Divorced Men Downloading Legal Zoom Documents Without Attorney: Not A Good Idea

I've had a few clients approach me with these Legal Zoom legal document trust packages they pay $400 for in hopes of avoiding attorney's fees.  I can't emphasize enough how dangerous this is to proceed to do one's own trust believing it's just a matter of filling out a few fill in the blanks on a computer screen and then having them notarized.

A newly divorced gentleman called one day saying he had several documents in a trust to notarize.  This is a typical request from those whose attorneys say they're ready to have their documents notarized so I thought nothing of it. When we met at Starbucks though, a distraught businessman began asking me for my knowledge as a Notary Public about whether the trust package he had appeared to be complete.  I responded whether he spoke with an attorney and he said yes, but I didn't believe him because any attorney in their right mind wouldn't support Legal Zoom trusts.  For me I was very concerned because as a Notary Public, this man's question amounted to solicitation for legal advice.
"The reason I'm doing this trust is I just got divorced and I want to make sure my wife won't have access to my assets." - Legal Zoom Customer
The man's ignorance was just breathtaking. Why was he was putting such an important decision in such jeopardy lacking the knowledge he needed to avoid potential problems? For instance, there was no Power of Attorney for Finances in the package which would enable someone to take responsibility for his finances for his bank accounts and trust estate in case he became incapacitated.   What this man was doing was so dangerous for his future, so I immediately referred him to an attorney and notarized the two documents he requested.  I told him he was putting himself at great risk by not seeking an attorney's advice.

There are some things you can do on your own without an attorney these days, but doing a trust with Legal Zoom is a very bad idea.  At the very least contact a Legal Document Assistant in your area who will be able to spot any problems in the trust documentation.  I used to be an LDA, and they can be very helpful at steering you in the right direction to make good decisions for yourself.  This man didn't have the basic knowledge to know if he even had all the appropriate documents not bothering to read any of the Nolo self-help legal trust books.

Divorcees likely go through a very unstable emotionally distraught period after their split. It's not a good idea to make such important decisions in such a reckless fashion for this reason.  The first question that came to my mind was, where was the trust in his marriage?  If he had a trust estate to protect why did he create one after his divorce?  Typically these divorcees pay out thousands of dollars for divorce lawyers which explains the desire to circumvent using them again. Trust attorneys are far more trust worthy on average however and can prevent future calamities over one's hard earned assets.

There are inexpensive trust attorneys out there.  I have a couple referrals I provide as a Notary Public of those attorneys who I frequently work with.  Don't take a chance with your future.  Seek legal advice for your trust estate or at the very least a Legal Document Assistant through who has more knowledge on preparing the documents and finding necessary information then you likely do.