Getting The Most Out Of DIY Legal Forms

Do-It-Yourself legal form providers such as LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer seem to grow more popular with each passing day. It’s not difficult to understand why. Who doesn’t like the idea of a simple, accessible, and affordable solution? Many attorneys frown upon the use of DIY legal forms. However, I think their emergence is a good thing. They provide consumers with options, and help fill the gap for affordable legal solutions that traditional approaches have failed to address.

That being said, consumers should be cautious when it comes to creating their own legal documents. While they can be effective for simple situations, they are often ineffective solutions to more complex issues. Furthermore, creating a legal document on your own is always more risky than having a professional do it for you. Even if the document seems simple, you may end up missing something a professional would know to look for. Therefore, using DIY legal documents can lead to unintended consequences that cause more pain than you would have experienced just hiring a professional.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to use a DIY legal solution.

DIY Legal Forms Should Only Be Used To Create Relatively Simple Documents

DIY legal forms are available online for just about anything including writing a will, starting a business, and getting a divorce. Whatever you want to do, there is probably an online form for it. However, just because a form is available doesn’t mean that you should use it.

DIY legal forms should only be used to create relatively simple documents. For example, if someone wants to create a will that passes everything they own to one person upon their death, a fill in the blanks form may be all they need. Likewise, using a form to draft a deed might make sense for someone experienced in real estate transactions. In each of these situations there is a lower risk of mistake because the task is relatively straightforward. Furthermore, in the second example the consumer probably has the real-world experience to avoid common mistakes.

It is a bad idea to use online DIY forms to create legal documents that are more complex. Generally speaking, DIY legal forms should not be used to create things like multi-member operating agreements, trusts, and pre-nuptial agreements. These documents often involve complex issues and the rights of multiple people. Fillable forms with generic language may not provide the necessary flexibility to address these issues. Furthermore, drafting these documents on your own without the help of a professional can end in disaster.

So when it comes to using DIY legal forms, it’s best to keep it simple.

Find The Right Form/Provider

All DIY legal form providers are not created equal. Each provides different levels of support. Some allow you to personalize your document more than others. Some provide explanations and helpful information, while others don’t. A few providers give you the option to connect with an attorney to review your completed document. There are even some providers that offer to walk you through the creation and filing of your document step-by-step.

There are a ton of options when it comes to choosing a legal form provider. Make sure the provider you choose offers enough support to help you avoid preventable mistakes. For example, each state has specific requirements when it comes to executing certain legal documents. Therefore, you should never use a form that is not specific to your state. Otherwise your document may not be effective.

To summarize, the more access a provider gives you to relevant information and additional support, the better.

Consider What’s At Risk If Things Go Wrong

Weigh the potential risk against the reward before choosing the DIY route. Most people choose to use DIY legal solutions in order to save money. However, there are other reasons why you may choose to do-it-yourself. You may want to maintain control over a situation. Or, you may be afraid that involving an attorney will lead to disagreements. Whatever benefit you may be getting out of creating a legal document on your own, you must also consider what you stand to lose if your document turns out to be ineffective.

Creating a legal document on your own is much riskier than having an attorney create it for you, no matter how simple it may seem. Simply put, you don’t know what you don’t know. Even if a document seems simple to create on your own, you may be missing something that a professional would know to look for. Therefore, consider what you have to lose if you make a mistake.

If making a mistake would result in a devastating loss to your or a loved one, perhaps you should pay an attorney to get it right now rather than risk paying one to fix your mistakes later.

Have Your Document Reviewed By A Professional

I’ve saved the best for last. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you when it comes to using DIY legal forms. After you create the document, have an attorney review it. As I stated above, creating a legal document on your own is more affordable than having an attorney do it for you. However, it also exposes you to a greater risk that something will go wrong. Having an attorney review the document you created gives you the best of both worlds. You save money by only paying the attorney to review your document, and receive assurance that the document will meet your goals. That’s what I call a win-win.

Having Trouble Deciding Whether To Use A DIY Legal Form? Give Us A Call

If you are having trouble deciding whether to hire an attorney or go the DIY route, M. Zane {+} Associates is here to help. We’ll take the time to understand your situation and help you find the right solution. Give us a call at (267) 475-7052 today to see how we can help.