There are many different kinds of legal docs that you may have. Some include birth certificates, wills, business transactions, and home sales papers. Since these legal docs can have an influence over your future, you don’t want to let them get lost or stolen. It is important to keep all legal documents in a safe and secure place. Stolen legal docs can cost significant amounts to replace, and can additionally cause much more in legal fees if the wrong person uses them.
There are times when circumstances arise that require the use of legal documents such as a power of attorney, estate planning, and asset management, and the services of legal counsel may not be readily available. Your only alternative is to look for legal documents online that are easy to understand and quick to process. Take the following into consideration during your search:
- Check to see if the legal docs you are using are valid in your jurisdiction. Invalid paperwork is one of the main causes of lost court cases.
- Legal sites must have professional staff on hand that is knowledgeable of the documents in great detail, and must have reliable customer service options for clients.
- Double-check filing procedures for documents if using a legal site to see if additional fees for paperwork is required for completion.
- If a legal site charges a fee for their services, make sure the charges are specifically explained in detail.
Finding legal documents online is simple for individuals who have limited budgets and time constraints due to work or personal obligations. One advantage to using your own legal documents is that the language used in processing can be catered to your level of knowledge while still adhering to federal and state legal standards. The types of documents commonly used by businesses and individuals include the following items listed below.
Legal Documents for Businesses
Leases, labor, sales, licensing, agreements contractor agreements, settlement, etc.
Real estate property, vehicles, supplies, assets, and other property
Terms and Conditions
Specific terms and conditions for websites and users
States how a business processes and handles personal information of customers, employees, and other interested parties
Also referred to as an “Employment Contract,” is an agreement between the company and the employee that outlines specific information regarding job duties, conditions, and wages
Also referred to as a “Stockholder’s Agreement,” outlines the terms of obligation between the controlling company and owners of company shares including voting rights, company management practices, dispute resolution, financial reporting, and general business operations
A written agreement between two or more interested parties to form and execute the duties associated with a for-profit business. Includes the nature of the business, financial information, liability, and other necessary provisions
Legal Documents for Individuals
Marriage and Family
Prenuptial agreements, power of attorney, last will and testament, codicil to will, guardian designation, trust organization, separation agreements, medical consent, travel consent, records release, cohabitation agreements, common-law partner agreement
Real estate purchase agreements, leases, amendments to leases, co-purchaser agreement, deeds, contracts, purchase offers, notices of eviction
Debt notices, letters of intent, banking requests, credit report requests and corrections, bill adjustment requests, loan modifications, estate planning, living wills, living revocable trusts, life insurance beneficiary designation, beneficiary change requests, bills of sale, IOUs
Finding Reliable Online Legal Documents
Hundreds of websites online offer legal forms and documents, so choosing the right sources can be time-consuming and overwhelming. To narrow down the list of online suppliers, you must first check to see if the site is a member in the BBB (Better Business Bureau), is hacker safe, and has secure online checkout (e.g. VeriSign). Next, make sure the site has the documents you need for your state of residence.
Third, check to see if forms may be purchased separately, in a package, or as a part of a subscription or membership, depending on how often and how many legal documents are needed. Some sites have free legal documents online for immediate access. Fourth, make sure your computer has the required browser, plugins, word processing programs, and memory capacity to process the downloaded materials.
Processing Online Legal Documents
Simplicity is key to obtaining the right legal document for the purpose in mind. Some online legal services allow for legal docs to be edited, downloaded, and printed directly from the website, but some people may be wary of posting sensitive information online. There are also forms that may be customized, saved, and printed directly from the website for duplication and manual input. Also, the fill-in-the-blank legal docs are the easiest to use for people who do not need detailed or complicated forms.
After forms are completed, they may be filed with the appropriate party for immediate processing (court, lawyer, etc.). However, the legal documents may have to be witnessed and notarized by a notary public before they are filed. Consult your local jurisdiction or a state board certified attorney for details.
Deciding If You Should Use Online Legal Documents
Even though online legal documents are accessible and user-friendly, there are still a few areas of concern for consumers when deciding if the do-it-yourself approach is the best option.
The language in an online legal document may be TOO easy to understand, creating a loss of credibility with the judicial courts. Also, some states DO NOT allow the use of online legal documents and require specifically designed agency forms for certain legal matters. Reviewing the filing process with a court authority is advisable before obtaining an online legal document.
Ask yourself if the legal document you need has all of the necessary and pertinent information required for accurate processing. If so, submitting a self-made legal doc is acceptable. If not, check to see if an online version of the document desired is available.
The services of legal counsel may be needed if no online versions of the document can be obtained.
Determine if the online legal document is flexible enough for revisions, edits, addendums, and amendments. Once the document has been filed with the courts, changes may either be disallowed or very costly to make.
Overall, using an online legal document to handle matters of importance may be the simplest and best option for you. If, for any reason you are unsure about which document to use for your situation, it is advisable to consult with a qualified legal professional beforehand.