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Online legal documents

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Over the past few years, several websites have popped up offering to sell legal documents at a fraction of the price someone would pay to a lawyer. In fact, many people have used these sites to help them with everything from writing a will to leasing their house. Many legal experts, however, have looked at the products sold by these websites and have publicly stated that the quality of goods ranges from mediocre to downright dangerous.
In fact, people using these documents can actually be buying themselves a lot of legal problems down the road. Don’t use these websites if any of the following situations could apply to you.
1. Someone wants to challenge you. This is especially true in the case of wills, but it extends to a variety of other situations. Legal documents that are bought online rarely come with the attention to detail that is necessary if anyone wants to context the document. Online wills, for example, a usually nothing more than a form letter that fills in the information you supply. They rarely make any provision for disinheriting someone, and when they do the wording is so vague that it can easily be challenged in court. Lease agreements are written to cover a variety of rental property types, so a disgruntled tenant can easily find loopholes in the agreement and hold up an eviction proceeding. If you need a document that has to stand up in court, hire a lawyer.
2. Your situation is complicated. Online legal documents are meant to cover basic situations, such as renting out your home for a set period of time or leaving everything you own to your spouse. If your situation is complicated, you need a lawyer. For example, if you have a lot of assets that need to be divided among a lot of heirs, or if you have a tenant who wants a month to month lease. Any divorce that involves child custody issues should not use online documents. If there are any questions that come about later, not only will these documents not provide enough information to instruct everyone on your wishes, this confusion can also be used to challenge the entire contract, will, or custody arrangement.
3. You have a lot of assets, and/or you’re not sure of their value. Any financial transaction that involves items of dubious value needs a real person to draw up the paperwork. For example, many people use online documents to set up small businesses. Because the person setting up the business doesn’t understand what information they’re entering, there have been several cases where these online documents have not protected their personal assets when the business collapsed. Every business is different, and it’s ridiculous to think that a fill in the blank legal document can protect every aspect of a unique business. In the case of loan paperwork, using a form letter style lending document can lead to challenges over the actual value of the item being borrowed against in the case that you have to start a repossession.
Online legal documents might be safe if you use them in situations where no one will contest their validity. Unfortunately, it’s hard to predict when those situations will occur. Save yourself a lot of time and hassle and visit a lawyer.

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