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Online Legal Forms Leave Consumers Vulnerable
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LegalZoom

Summary: Online legal forms are generic and will not adequately work for most cases but consumers still gravitate to what comes easy and cheap, not understanding the risks.

Consumers are driving the legal industry to offer cheaper online services but with the demand comes lower quality. The Internet provides wills, leases, divorce, and even immigration paperwork for fractions of the cost of meeting with actual lawyers for the same services.

  
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While the upfront cost is less, clients may end up spending more when the online legal paperwork doesn’t end up meeting their actual needs. For $69 on LegalZoom.com, the leading provider in the online market, one can purchase a basic will or a real estate license for $29. On RocketLawyer.com, one can pay $7 a month for unlimited access to a variety of legal documents. This is in contrast to hundreds of dollars one would pay for a lease or will from a lawyer.

As New York attorney Peter L. Brooks points out, “Rarely can a canned document or form be sufficient and advisable. Of course, lawyers start out using forms, but, in my experience there is almost always something special about the situation that requires the sophistication of an experienced lawyer.”

Some forms are only accepted in a specific format, or very rarely accepted in other formats. For example, the New York power of attorney form is a downloadable state form that may not be accepted by all parties if they are unfamiliar with it. LegalZoom admits this may happen but reinforces the fact that their forms are “legal and effective.”

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Consumers that purchase these online services that don’t get the results they expect are left on their own. LegalZoom’s terms of use “makes no warranty” that they “will meet your requirements” or that results will “be accurate or reliable.” LegalZoom also has stipulations in the fine print that prevent consumers from taking them to court in front of juries or class actions.

As the experts explain, online forms can work for very simple cases but most are not like that. Divorce general includes assets, children, or spousal support. Wills may give some inheritance to some children but not all or split the inheritance in ways that could be contested, resulting in more court fees. Caution is extremely important for anyone looking to use online legal forms.



Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dont-buy-legal-documents-online-without-reading-this-story-2015-11-23

Photo: insightlaw.net



 

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