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Downloading online legal forms brings a risk as well as being popular, easy and cheap.

There is a boom today in the ease of downloading online legal forms with expenses as low as $100 or less for some key forms such as wills and powers of attorney but there are also some hidden dangers that lurk just below the surface.

Recently, Market Watch investigated and identified four major problems with downloading online legal documents in “Don’t buy legal documents online without reading this story.”

The areas of concern include:

  • The Documents Might Not Be Accepted – Many states use standard forms for basic legal matters. A downloaded legal document might have all of the correct language, but if the court clerk does not recognize it as the standard form, he or she might refuse to file it.
  • Little Recourse – If it turns out that you are harmed by the form, you probably will not be able to go to court against the company that provided it. Check the fine print in the terms of service. Online form companies often force you to agree to binding arbitration and to waive your right to trial by jury.
  • Simple Is Not Always Good – When it comes to legal documents it is important to be as specific as possible. What might seem specific to some people will seem hopelessly vague to lawyers and judges. This could lead to complications and cost a lot of money to sort out.
  • Why Pay For What You Can Get For Free? – Many of the documents that online companies charge for are available in standard and better form for free from judicial and government agency websites. This includes everything from powers of attorney, divorce petitions, business formation applications, copyright applications and much more. Companies selling these documents are not doing it cheaper than the normal cost. They are ripping you off.

Reference: Market Watch (Nov. 27, 2015) “Don’t buy legal documents online without reading this story.”

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.