It’s amazing to think about all the things you can do online: find your soulmate, buy the antique roadster you’ve dreamed of owning, and even get a university degree. Some so-called “specialist” websites even claim to give you the resources you need to handle your own legal matters.
These sites offer cheap access to legal forms, along with instructions on how to fill them out and use them. It sounds like a great opportunity when professional legal advice costs a lot more, but don’t forget the old saying that you get what you pay for.
Here are three dangers that you risk when you choose the DIY route.
- They give the impression that the legal process is simpler than it really is.
The proliferation of DIY legal service websites provides you with a false sense of security. For example, if you try to save money by doing your own divorce, there are several sites that offer fill-in petitions for divorce and associated forms for child support, spousal maintenance, financial disclosures, and hearing notices. They make it seem like all you have to do is complete them to the best of your ability, file them at the courthouse, serve them on your spouse, and attend court when necessary.
The problem is that even if the court accepts your forms, processes them, and issues the divorce decree, it is not unusual for a problem to remain hidden for years until an event, such as one spouse trying to buy a home, brings it to light. By this point correcting the issue will be expensive and stressful. A family law attorney can ensure that your divorce forms and agreement are completed correctly and give both of you peace of mind for the future.
- Paperwork is generic and does not address your unique needs
Online legal document services provide paperwork that’s intended for the masses, meaning that they are fill-in-the-blank documents with no customized language, amendments, or clauses that address your personal circumstances or protect your vulnerabilities. For example, the typical DIY Will does not generally cover special situations such as:
- A recent separation from your spouse or partner
- Business assets such as a company or rental property
- Assets outside of the United States
- Children or dependent adults with special needs
An estate planning attorney has the qualifications and experience to make sure that your will covers all your goals while remaining compliant with applicable laws so that your loved ones aren’t burdened after you pass.
- They can’t counsel you if a dispute arises
Unfortunately, if you make mistakes with these DIY legal forms and things go wrong later, these service providers can’t offer you legal advice or negotiate a resolution on your behalf. They also don’t vet your paperwork to confirm that you haven’t inadvertently signed away important rights or made inclusions that invalidate the entire agreement. If you look closely, you’ll see that these websites affirm that they do not provide legal advice and are not a substitute for a licensed attorney.
An attorney who is well-versed in multiple areas of civil law is the best resource for guiding you through an important event such as a divorce, Will, or formation of a business agreement. At Aguilera Law Center, we provide you with present solutions, not future problems, and will make sure that you are protected by the letter of the law. We’re here when you need us, so contact our office any time.