Estate Planning text concept written on wooden blocks

Estate Planning Documents With an Attorney vs. Using Forms

StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law March 22, 2023

With rising costs in almost every sector of society, it’s to be expected that people will look for ways to cut costs wherever they can. However, there are some goods and services where it may be worth it to spend a few more dollars to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want. One area where this may be particularly important is with estate planning. Nowadays, you can find numerous online estate planning forms and templates that advertise themselves to be fast and easy, but can you really trust these claims? After all, your estate plan has a big job to do—and one where you won’t be around to supervise and troubleshoot.  

If you’re curious to learn more about the benefits of using an estate planning attorney vs. online forms, give us a call at StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law. For over two decades, we’ve been proud to serve those in Dayton, Ohio, as well as Warren, Greene County, Clark County, Miamisburg, Butler County, and Preble County. 

Why Estate Planning Is Important  

There are few documents as important as those in an estate plan. A well-written and comprehensive estate plan can ensure that your loved ones and family are cared for after you pass and that your estate and assets are handled according to your wishes. By leaving behind an estate plan, you’ll be reducing the amount of time and money your family will have to spend tying up loose ends, as well as reducing the stress and burden of administering an estate with no direction. Your estate plan can also include critically important information about whom you want to be a guardian for any minor children, what kind of healthcare procedures you do or do not want, as well as name someone as power of attorney for legal and financial concerns.  

Online Forms vs. Estate Planning Attorney  

If you’re thinking about drafting an estate plan online, please take the time to research your options and consider all aspects before making a decision.  


Most online forms will be for general use no matter what part of the country you live in. This means they won’t include state-specific information such as probate or inheritance tax regulations. This can be especially important when passing down certain high-value assets. What may work well in one state to make the process more streamlined won’t necessarily work in another. And, unless you have an estate planning attorney who’s knowledgeable about state-specific requirements and can advise you on your best options, you’ll be left on your own to make these decisions.  

Making Modifications  

Ideally, you’ll start drafting your estate plan earlier in your life to make sure you have a plan in place should the unexpected happen. Staring early has the added benefit of making it easier to make modifications as you grow older and your life changes. Making revisions is simple when you’re already working with an attorney as they’ll be familiar with your plan and can advise you on the change you want to make and how it may inadvertently affect other aspects of your plan. Trying to make a modification is complex on a form, and something that’s seemingly very easy can change the entire estate plan.  

Getting the Right Advice  

Online forms will contain basic directions that are applicable to a broad section of users, but you’ll receive no personalized  guidance. An estate plan is simply too important to leave to chance, and you’ll want an attorney to inform you of your options and choose a plan that fits your situation. Additionally, your lawyer can also provide you with tax guidance.  

When Disputes Arise  

Unfortunately, some wills and estate plans will be disputed after the testator passes away. When these disputes over a decedent’s estate plan arise, the court will have to step in to clear up confusion or make a determination in favor of one beneficiary or another. When doing this, they’ll need to seek out information that comes from a party that doesn’t benefit from the provisions of the will, namely the attorney. If you use an online template, there will be no one to turn to and your heirs will be the ones who suffer. 

Keeping Your Documentation Safe  

Lastly, your attorney will always keep a copy of your estate plan on hand should you need to revise it or should disputes arise. If you drafted and filed your estate plan online, there’s little accountability should your heirs need help locating your will after you pass. Furthermore, your executor will be able to turn to your attorney for help administering the will. 

Seek Trusted Legal Counsel  

While it is true that working with an estate planning attorney will be more expensive than using an online form, the peace of mind and confidence you’ll have moving forward will more than make up for it. If you’re in the Dayton, Ohio, area, reach out to us at StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law to schedule a consultation.