Helpful Sources for Legal Documents Online
Lawyers are expensive. There will likely be times in your life that hiring one is worth the cost. For all those times when you know you need a document that passes legal muster, but would rather get by without paying someone $200 an hour to help, the internet is here for you.
To be clear, in many cases a lawyer really is a worthwhile investment. You’ll be more assured that a legal document says exactly what you want it to with specialized help, particularly if you’re using it it to communicate anything that’s at all complicated. But when your needs are fairly simple and the legal document is meant to clarify a desire that’s not at all contentious within your family, using an online source for legal documents may be a reasonable–and much cheaper–alternative.
General Repositories for Legal Documents
There are many sites on the web that offer a repository for all types of legal documents. Here are a few that seem to have a pretty solid reputation with users and reviewers.
Law Depot (www.lawdepot.com)
Law Depot is free, fast, and simple. The website is very user friendly and offers templates for a wide range of legal documents. The site will ask you a number of questions and, as you fill in your information, will autofill the document for you.
Docracy uses a crowdsourcing model to provide users with a wide range of documents. Instead of one template you fill in, you can search and browse a large number of documents that have been loaded by lawyers and other users. That means it takes a little more work to find what you need, but provides you with more variety in what’s available. It’s also entirely free to users.
Legal Zoom (www.legalzoom.com)
Legal Zoom provides a large repository of documents, but their resources do come at a cost. There are different prices for different types of documents based on their complexity, but most of those we looked at are under $100, and you can get an overall discount for bundling several docs at once. The cost usually includes a review by a professional for your “peace of mind,” which can be a nice value add for anyone worried about how well the templates on other sites really reflect their needs.
Sources For Creating a Will
All of the aforementioned sites can help you with the documents seniors are most likely to be concerned with, such as your final will and testament, a living will, and power of attorney, but since the need for those is so high, there are websites more directly devoted to them.
Do Your Own Will (www.doyourownwill.com)
Do Your Own Will is a free resource that lets you answer a few question to produce a will. However, it will only work for you if you’re leaving everything to your spouse and children, since it won’t let you specify where particular assets will go. For many people though, it may satisfy your needs.
Willing.com is another free resource with a simple interface and easy-to-use design. If your property and desires are fairly simple, it will walk you through a few questions to produce a legally binding will.
LegacyWriter offers either a per document cost (usually $19.95), or a subscription rate of $7.50 per month which comes with access to attorney services). As with the others, they walk you through the basics needed to fill in your documents and then deliver a completed one particular to your needs.
It’s important to emphasize that none of these solutions will work well for you if you have a large estate and a long list of beneficiaries you hope to leave your belongings to. If that’s your situation, you really should sit down with a lawyer. If you know you want to leave everything to your spouse, your kids, or some other meaningful person in your life, then costly legal services likely aren’t necessary and these websites can help.