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Why “Do-it-Yourself” Legal Options Aren’t Always Best

Published on Oct 31, 2019 at 3:06 pm in Personal Injury.

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For most things, taking the cheap option could cost you more in the long run. Legal work is no different. Making any type of claim on your own requires intensive research. You’d have to study federal and state laws surrounding the claim, the processes of what to do before your claim, and how to make your claim. Even if you do all that research and fill out the paperwork, it could be wrong. What is the point of doing it on your own for cheap if you have to hire a lawyer to fix it later anyway?

The Problems with DIY Legal Options

Programs and websites that offer Do-it-Yourself options are usually geared toward more general legal documents. But the law isn’t general. We have very specific laws in the United States as well as laws that vary by state. Legal documents shouldn’t be fill-in-the-blank forms because that leaves too much room for error. Here are the most common problems with DIY legal options:

  • Outdated information. The website’s forms haven’t been updated in a while. Or current and new laws aren’t included in the information.
  • Missing information on specifics. DIY legal websites might not include specifics like state laws.
  • Not enough customization. The fill-in-the-blank nature could make a document too general for your specific needs.
  • Too much customization. On the other hand, if you can customize the document too much, you might unknowingly cross into new legal territory that requires clauses only allowed in special circumstances.

If you tried to do legal work on your own but it doesn’t follow your state’s laws, your whole document could be invalid. For example, if you drafted your will on a DIY program and followed a general template, but you did not follow your state laws for the amount of witnesses needed, the will would be null and void. But you wouldn’t know that it was invalid until it was too late and then nobody would get what you willed to them. Or worse, your family would end up paying thousands in court to contest your will.

Most of these programs offer an upcharge to have a lawyer from your state look over your document. If you’re willing to pay an upcharge after the fact, why not go to a lawyer in your state from the beginning? A lawyer can give you something the programs can’t: peace of mind that it was done right the first time.

Legal Documents You Shouldn’t DIY

If what you are planning to do legally has even the slightest amount of complexity, which most legal documents do, you will run into trouble trying to do it yourself. Here are some legal documents you shouldn’t attempt to DIY:

  • Will
  • Lasting power of attorney
  • Money claim
  • Divorce
  • Rental agreement
  • Property purchase
  • Operating agreement

Even though general documents might seem to work for you, they don’t cater to your specific needs. Small businesses can fall for this because they don’t want to pay out for an expert. But by cutting corners, they could end up paying even more. Using DIY options for something like an opening agreement could go bad because the general template could include parts that the owners didn’t intend to include or don’t understand, like arbitration agreements. What works for one business does not always work for another, so why use a document that assumes every business is the same? A lawyer can tailor the document to your business, and it will never include a surprise or be invalid in your state because it’s what they’re trained to do.

Nonprofits who do their legal work themselves can also run into trouble by using DIY legal programs. Nonprofits require specific forms in order to be granted their tax-exempt status. If these forms are not properly filled out, a nonprofit could get itself into a serious bind where they owe the IRS. If they use a lawyer from the start, they wouldn’t run into that problem.

Better Legal Options

Even though doing everything online is a tempting trend, it’s best to keep your legal work personal. As your safest option, go to an attorney in your state so you can discuss all of your legal needs face to face.

The last thing you need is a lawsuit from a faulty legal document you filled out yourself. Contact us at Solomon Law Group if you want your legal work done right the first time. Spend your money where it counts rather than taking what you think is the easy way out.

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