DIY Estate Planning or Hire a Lawyer? There’s a Gap There.
by Brian Hayden
June 10, 2022

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way: If you can afford an estate planning attorney you should hire one. Do-it-yourself guides don’t replace the expertise of a seasoned professional.

But a lot of people prefer doing things for themselves, and estate planning can get expensive fast. How expensive? The cost varies a lot, depending on the complexity of your situation. According to David McDaniel, “Some attorneys may prepare a simple will or power of attorney for as little as $150 or $200. On average, experienced attorneys may charge $250 or $350 per hour to prepare more sophisticated estate plans. You could spend several thousand dollars to work with such an attorney.” 

Navigating the legal system doesn’t have to be complicated. There’s a lot you can do if you’re willing to invest some time and money into learning the basics from a guidebook. And for those intrepid souls we’ve got something new: a chance to take a course with the author of the book.

Nolo Publishes DIY Legal Guides

Nolo was born of the frustration of two legal aid lawyers who were working to help low-income families in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s. You can read the origin story here.

Nolo began publishing do-it-yourself legal guides in 1971. In the 40 years since its founding, Nolo has evolved with technology, developing do-it-yourself software and building into one of the Internet’s leading legal websites. 

Consumers and small business owners can handle many legal matters themselves with Nolo’s do-it-yourself products, which range from online forms and software to books and eGuides. All are written in plain English, with step-by-step instructions that help you get the job done.

But there’s a big gap between buying a book and hiring a lawyer.

Some non-zero percentage of people who buy Nolo books need a little more support and would like to engage directly with the author as a client or student. That’s why Liza Hanks has started building online courses for her NOLO books.

Thousands use “The Trustee’s Legal Companion” as a guide for performing their duties as a trustee. Sometimes the book provides all the guidance they need. Other times, they hire a lawyer to help them. We think there’s an in-between solution that will appeal to some: a detailed course taught by the author.

For the cost of a couple hours of a lawyer’s time, you can learn directly from the author of the book and leverage the book in more powerful ways. Courses are aimed at consumers interested in flexing up and doing a great job without paying a lawyer or going to law school.  

The Trustee’s Legal Companion” is the first course, and “Every Californian’s Guide to Estate Planning” is the second. Both are taught by Liza Hanks, an approachable and renowned estate planning attorney from Palo Alto, CA. 

One more disclaimer

Let’s finish with one more disclaimer: No attorney-client or confidential relationship exists or will be formed between you and Provider or any of our representatives. Please don’t be misled on this point.

But we truly hope that more training and context from Liza Hanks will give confidence to the DIY estate planners out there. Maybe that’s you.