Don’t Put Your Estate in the Hands of a Machine

Recently there has been a lot of discussion and predications about the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on the legal profession.

While technology has made administrative repetitive tasks more efficient, it is still far off from substituting the counsel of an experienced attorney.

In terms of Estate Planning, the use of document providers such as Legal Zoom has gained in popularity. The most touted benefit is the cheaper cost.

However, you get what you pay for. Translation: What is the value, quality, and assurances provided?

Value Factors

Fiduciary

Tax Advice

Legal Advice

Court Experience

Translations

Trust Funding

Insurance

Trust Administration

 

Attorney

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Document Provider

No

No

No

No (Represent Yourself)

No (Own Comprehension)

No (Do it Yourself)

No

No (Do it Yourself)

 

Issues Not Likely Addressed by Document Provider

  • How to transfer and effectuate ownership of specific assets (e.g. real estate) into the the Trust.
  • How to relate financial assets to the Trust only held in the name of an individual (e.g. Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts.)
  • Tax planning and management of each specific asset. (Assets have differing tax characteristics, application to beneficiaries, and the method and sequencing of distribution.)
  • Cross-border considerations and International Tax implications.
  • Advice regarding scenarios that are more likely to cause disputes, legal actions or delays.
  • Insights regarding the Trust or Estate administration. When you die what is required of those in charge to effectuate your testamentary wishes? Common tasks include tax valuations and tax returns, legal notices, legal filings, and distributions.

In conclusion, technology is a great thing, but it is still a tool that is only as good as the operator and the person providing the input. Savvy customers should ask themselves if they want to hire someone to delegate responsibility for complex and sophisticated matters, or rely on their own education, skill, and capability.

Disclaimer

Author: Hanlen Chang

The Law Offices of Hanlen J. Chang is located in San Francisco, California. Mr. Chang is a graduate of Southwestern Law School and UC Santa Barbara. Mr. Chang’s Legal Practice is focused on Estate Planning (with an international subspeciality), Business Law, and Real Estate. Mr. Chang is a member of the Bar Association of San Francisco – International Law & Practice Executive Committee.

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