A few years ago, I needed to DIY a basic legal form. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t give legal advice. But I can tell you what worked for me. And it was free.
I needed a Power of Attorney in order to close the sale of a house my husband and I jointly owned. My husband had to, unexpectedly, take a business trip out-of-town and couldn’t attend the closing. I’d have to go alone. Having his Power of Attorney would allow me to sign all the paperwork that required his signature. But there was no time to make an appointment with an attorney to draft the paperwork. So my plan was to use one of the online legal services.
These services give you a choice of basic documents you can draft including Last Will & Testament, Living Will, Power of Attorney, Loan Agreement, Promissory Note, Rental/Lease Agreement, Quit Claim Deed, LLC Operating Agreement, Confidentiality Agreement, Prenuptial Agreement and even Divorce.
They take you through a series of pertinent questions regarding your wishes and requirements. And upon completion, they provide you with a clean, printable document when you provide your credit card information. Up to that point, your document has a “DRAFT” watermark all throughout it.
Costs vary according to the site and complexity of the document. Some sites may give you the first document free. Others prefer you sign up for a monthly subscription for basic legal forms.
When I was looking for a quick P.O.A, first-one-free wasn’t an option. So how’d I get mine free? I used the draft documents from a few sites as research and used the best parts of those to construct my own. Yes, it meant constructing and typing the whole thing myself rather than printing a watermark-free canned copy, but as I recall, it was only two or three pages.
My husband signed it, we took it to a local packaging store to be witnessed and notarized, and gave it to our realtor. The closing attorneys were satisfied and I was able to do the closing, utilizing my DIY P.O.A. with no problem. All it cost me was my time and the notary fee. Eight bucks, as I recall. (You’d have to pay that in addition to the online fee for canned documents anyway.) And that was that.The closing attorneys were satisfied and I was able to do the closing, utilizing my DIY P.O.A. Click To Tweet
We’ve also saved money when minor changes to our will were necessary, such as eliminating a provision for minors when we no longer had minors and changing executors. I simply retyped them (from documents we had paid several hundred dollars for a lawyer to write) with our changes and had them witnessed and notarized. We weren’t reinventing the wheel.
The online sites for basic legal forms have disclaimers galore. They’re not a law firm. You’re not their client. They don’t give you advice. They provide information and you’re responsible for how you use it. In fact, you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. Wow! Those are the exact same disclaimers I make.