The saying “you get what you pay for” is especially true when it comes to legal advice and services.  Although technology has advanced the information and legal services available, it has come at a price.  Having this information available provides many conveniences but results in many unforeseen consequences.  The Internet has greatly increased the information to which people have access and has transformed the way people live their lives.  Almost anything can be found on the Internet including legal advice and legal documents.  Although this wealth of information can be helpful, it is all too common for someone to rely on advice or a legal document without any knowledge of the source from which it originated.  Keep the following things in mind the next time you are faced with a legal issue and are debating whether to speak with an attorney or depend on information you found on the Internet.

What legal issue am I facing?  There could be any number of legal issues that a person may have to deal with during a lifetime.  No matter how big or small a legal issue may seem to be, how it is handled can greatly impact a person for years to follow.  Whether it is a criminal or civil matter, having effective legal counsel can greatly benefit you now and for years to come.  Understanding the immediate consequences faced is important and should be carefully handled.  However, there can also be numerous unintended consequences based on the outcome of a legal matter.  Therefore, speaking with an experienced attorney before any action is taken can ensure you protect yourself not only from the pending legal issues but also from other consequences as well.

What are the special facts of my case?  Each case has unique facts and circumstances.  Advice received on the Internet will not know of your specific facts that may greatly impact the decision that is right for you.  Additionally, any type of document you may need prepared should be tailored specifically to an individual’s specific needs.  What may be appropriate for one person or business may not be appropriate or necessary for another.  There could be certain requirements that may be specific to the state in which you live.  Additionally, depending on the type of form or document you need, there may be special protections that you may want to take.  Meeting with an attorney can ensure that your specific facts are understood and your desires are planned for and handled appropriately.

How reputable is the source?  Anyone can get online and post anything they want or claim to be anyone.  The ability to be anonymous allows people to act or do what they want with no repercussions.  Additionally, everyone “knows someone who knows someone” who had the same thing happen and will tell you what a wonderful outcome resulted.  This does not make the information true or reliable.  By speaking with an attorney you know the source of the legal information you are getting, because you are speaking directly to a licensed attorney.

What are dangers of using forms found on the Internet?  With the availability of sample forms online, people have become increasingly trusting of online forms.  Standardized forms that allow an individual to fill in the blanks to create a document are easily accessible on the Internet.  These standardized cookie cutter forms exist in almost all areas of the law.  People are using form documents for handling important life and business decisions including creating wills or contracts to the formation of a business.  As previously discussed, the main problem when using a form found online is that there is no understanding as to whether the form is valid, in what state the form may be used, or what specific provisions should either be added or taken out to specifically fit individual needs.  To avoid some of these issues, people have turned to specific businesses that advertise state specific forms for sale.  Although these forms provide some reassurance that it is valid in a particular state, it does not address the specific individual needs that should be considered.  Do not trust your most important personal or business decisions or assets to a standardized form.  Have an experienced attorney with whom you have spoken and who knows your specific needs draft your legal documents.

What is the risk if something goes wrong?  Do not be “penny wise and pound foolish.”  People tend to try and do things themselves and then turn to an attorney once things go wrong.  Taking steps to protect oneself first can save money in the end.  Although the cost of hiring an attorney may be more expensive initially, it is worth it in the long run.  If a specific contract is unenforceable or a will is invalid, this can result in irreparable harm.  Proper planning can help avoid the expensive cost of litigating matters that arise after the problem is determined.  Do not jeopardize your personal or business assets or rights by attempting to save a little money by handling legal matters yourself.  Act now and ensure you are properly protected by speaking with an attorney at the Thurman Law Firm to help you with your legal needs.