The DeKalb County, Alabama, bar association has sued to prevent the website legalzoom.com from doing business in that state, a local newspaper reports.
The case will turn on the proper interpretation of Alabama's unauthorized practice of law statute, which I will not attempt to unpack here. I will, however, express sympathy with attorneys who are annoyed at LegalZoom and services like it.
The most profound issue with a form book (via online service or otherwise) is that use of the forms can create a tremendous false sense of security while potentially devastating problems linger unaddressed. I once gleaned from the web the case of an individual whose father made a LegalZoom will and died assuming his estate plan was properly made.
Much to the dismay of the son, it was not: LegalZoom, it was alleged, didn't remind the father to properly title his bank accounts such that they pass pursuant to the will. The result was that in excess of a hundred thousand dollars went to the wrong heir because that heir's (and not the son's) name was on the joint bank account.
So to the query "isn't a LegalZoom will better than no will at all," my usual reply is "no."
Tanner Pittman, LLC is a West Georgia law firm that specializes in estate services, civil litigation, and legal transactions.
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