You may have heard of websites like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer. These “do-it-yourself”, or DIY, legal form websites charge you a small fee to fill out some information and print off legal documents for personal use.
But is it actually a good idea to use these websites for legal forms?
Do-It-Yourself Legal Forms Are Convenient…
As you might imagine, lots of people use these websites because they can be quicker and cheaper than going to an attorney. Finding time in your busy schedule for an appointment with an attorney can be difficult. The convenience of these DIY legal forms – being able to create a legal document while at home, on the weekends or at night – can be appealing.
These online forms are also much less expensive than hiring an attorney to create the forms for you. For those who are can’t afford or aren’t willing to spend money on a lawyer, these forms can seem to be a great option. These forms can allow individuals to create their will, draft a bill of sale, and even file for divorce – all for much cheaper than hiring a lawyer.
…But There Can Be Issues With Do-It-Yourself Legal Forms
Unfortunately, there are also cons to using do-it-yourself legal documents.
One of the biggest concerns is leaving out key information, or filling in inaccurate information, that will cause problems down the road. If the legal document you created is incorrect or incomplete, it can actually cost more to fix it – in both time and money – than it would have to hire a lawyer in the first place.
You may also be purchasing something that is available to you for free already. In Iowa, the Judicial Branch recognized that not everyone can afford an attorney but may still need access to justice. In the area of family law, there are free forms and instructions that have been approved by the Iowa Supreme Court. There are forms for divorce (both with and without children) and for child support modification.
You can find free Family Law forms by clicking this link.
The Iowa Supreme Court has also recognized the need for citizens to be able to have easier access to justice in small claims civil matters (amount in controversy is $5000 or less). Free Iowa Small Claims forms and instructions are also available from the Judicial Branch web page.
You can find free Small Claims forms by clicking this link.
I recognize that not everyone with a legal problem can afford an attorney. I hate to see anyone get taken advantage of by purchasing forms online that are no good or actually available for free from the Iowa Judicial Branch.
Why You Should Hire an Iowa Attorney For Legal Issues
Attorneys exist for a reason – many of these legal issues can be complex. While it might be all right to use DIY legal forms for something simple like a bill of sale or a promissory note, using them for legal events like prenuptial agreements and wills isn’t a good idea. While it may be cheaper, it’s simply not worth the risk of a mistake.
For foolproof legal documents, your best bet is to have a lawyer draft the legal form for you. While it may cost more, you can be assured that they will be filled out completely and accurately. Hire an attorney and let them deal with the complex matter for you.