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Safety of Online Legal Documents

November 28, 2011

If you are looking to prepare a legal document you may ask yourself: Why do I need to consult an attorney when I can search on the Internet and get any legal document I need for a nominal fee, or, maybe, even for free. There are so many websites that offer online legal forms. We’ve all seen them; there are the divorce papers, or the incorporation documents, or the Will forms, to name a few of the more common ones. Depending on the site you are using, you can either purchase the documents or the site may offer free downloads of the documents. Before you use that legal document you found on the Internet, here are a few words of caution:

Unknown Author: Since you do not know who wrote the document, it could have been written or scanned by anyone. Since the document could have been written by anyone, the wording and terminology could be completely incorrect. This could cause you a potential loss of business and reputation. Also, you do not know when this document was uploaded so it might be outdated.

Lack of validity: Oftentimes, the documents are drafted in such a manner so they look official but they do not follow the correct format. Moreover, many states have strict rules against submitting any document that is not officially recognized by the state.

Wrong state: Laws vary from one state to the next, what is legal in one state may not be legal in yours. Basically, the document may not be worth the paper it was written on.

Not relevant: Legal documents are typically structured on a case by case basis. The document that you find online is likely to not fit your situation exactly, which can do more harm than good.

Copyright: Often legal documents will contain copyright laws and depending on the state, if caught using a document with a copyright, fines could potentially be imposed.

If you decide to use a legal document found on the Internet, give us a call first. A consultation with one of our attorneys could save you a lot of personal and possible legal trouble in the long run.

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