Information is instantaneously available, due to the rise of the internet. Additionally, many services that were not available in the past, including do-it-yourself (DIY) legal forms, now exist. As a result, it is tempting to think that the forms provided by these DIY services can be a low-cost substitute for the services of an attorney. The reality is you need to be aware that using these one-size-fits-all forms may end up costing much more than they save. The risks are genuine, and you should be informed when weighing your options.
Several years ago, Consumer Report® magazine evaluated the services offered by these DIY legal sites. They first created several types of legal documents using their online forms and then asked three law professors specializing in business, consumer, and estate planning law, to evaluate the documents created. The professors found that the documents were inadequate to meet the needs of most individuals. Furthermore, they were frequently not specific enough to address each user's unique circumstances and needs or contained language that could lead to unintended results. The results should act as a wake-up call for anyone considering using these services.
Each matter is different, and everyone has different goals and legal needs that should be carefully considered and addressed to enable a business to function optimally and to avoid unnecessary legal trouble. The failure to obtain counsel from a well-qualified business law attorney could lead to several unanticipated costs:
- Unnecessary legal costs. Although it may initially save money to form your business, draft your contracts or make an estate plan using online forms, these forms are unlikely to meet the unique needs of your situation. They represent the least common denominator across business types and jurisdictions, and as a result, they may not include provisions or protections that are essential for your life or specific business, which would have been identified and addressed by an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. This could result in unnecessary legal disputes representing thousands of dollars in legal fees that far outweigh the “savings” provided by the DIY legal forms.
- Wasted time. Business owners know the truth underlying the adage that “time is money.” Every minute spent on unnecessary disputes and lawsuits is one not spent on activities that further the success of your business. Most business owners invest substantial time in building and operating their businesses, and don't have time to spare for avoidable disputes. The high opportunity cost generated by legal problems that could have been avoided is something that should be taken into account in deciding whether to use DIY legal forms.
- Damage to reputation. If you fail to use individually tailored and well-drafted legal documents and procedures that are designed to proactively avoid disputes, your reputation or the reputation of your business could suffer over time. Using a well-drafted estate plan, will, trust or contracts not only save you from potential legal troubles, but it also protects your family with estate administration and, vendors and customers from encountering legal problems in their transactions with your business.
NC Legal Documents Can Help Instead of DIY Legal Forms
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