Whether you are a business owner or someone in need of drafting a document you have no idea how to, the chances are you’re going to try and use some of the forms available online at least once. Of course, this is the first thing that comes to your mind, when you have zero legal knowledge and experience, and realistically, these come free. Hiring an attorney to draft these is, however, something chargeable.
When it comes to available documents, it’s possible to find all kinds of them online, for all kinds of purposes. Whether it is real estate you’re planning to buy, and need a contract, or a contract for hiring an employee. It takes only a couple of minutes to fill in the data, and voila.
But do these really come for free?
Having no legal experience makes you prone to making a mistake that can cost you a lot more than hiring a lawyer for such things. Think about this.
For this very reason, we have decided to list all the things you need to be aware of when choosing to use online forms and documents.
1. Not every form of the document is suitable for your case
Forms you find on the internet may look suitable for you, but in fact, do not match your needs. So, you should first consider for what purposes you need the document. If you plan to lend some money to a family member, then some form that will allow you to keep track of how much they’ve paid back is ok. But if you are in need of something more serious and complicated, like an operating agreement, this by no means should be the reason for using any kind of online form you find on the internet. You may browse to see what they look like, and what they contain, but the smartest option is to have one drafted according to your case. These are serious documents that control how, for example, a limited liability company works. Although they are also used in real estate transactions, the issue is that those found online may not protect you from the risk they’re supposed to. According to lawdistrict.com one has to know how the right questions to ask, in order to fill them out correctly.
2. Some may be outdated
Another risk of using these is related to outdated forms, in cases when the legislation has changed in the meantime. How can you know this happened? You don’t unless you follow news and publications related to certain documents. There may have been a new law passed recently that says additional information is obliged to be included in such documents, and the version you found online is no longer valid. Failing to know and apply this puts you at risk of breaking the law. It costs way too much to suffer the consequences than to hire a lawyer who by default has to be informed about these things.
3. Forms and templates can only do so much
It’s ok to use a form available online just to draft a working form of the document, but not the final one. A form can state some of the important things that need to be addressed, but when we talk about finalizing an agreement, for example, then you’ll find legal aid to be worth every single penny. A professional in this field will know how to adjust everything to your company’s specific needs, and even add something that wasn’t in the form. Such things are considered to be key provisions you may regret not putting in the document later.
4. You get what you paid for
And this is literally the way it is. In other words, a suite tailored for someone else will most likely not be the perfect fit for you. And in the case of online forms and documents, since you got them for free, they definitely do not contain everything a business like yours needs. In the future, it is very likely you will be exposed to liability. This will definitely end up costing way more than hiring professional help.
5. Forms you find online are usually rigid
Online templates seem like a good idea until there is a need for further customization. Then you realize this may be the problem since you do not know what is the right way to perform this. It is exactly why such documents always need to be personalized, they simply have to reflect the needs of both parties to the contract. Opting for online documents cannot do this.
What about websites that offer tailor-made legal documents?
You may have already noticed how there are quite a few websites that offer services of drafting legal documents, for a monthly subscription. All you need to do is subscribe, answer a couple of basic questions they ask when you are in need of a document, and the template is automatically created. It is said that these documents are legal. It sounds great, but again we come to the specifics you may be in need of, for your business to seal some deal.
Failing to put them in the contract can influence the validity of the document, and be the cause of future disputes. By this, we mean outdated forms (as was explained earlier in the article), inaccurate information, not being able to customize the document further, privacy concerns, and the list goes on.
In the end, having a good attorney to provide you with counseling when you need a serious document like a contract, is something worth paying for. It should be a person able to guide you through both aspects of your life – business and personal, all in order to prevent you from ending up in a courtroom, frustrated because the forms you once decided to use failed to identify issues within your field, or a relationship with someone.