Monday, November 19, 2007

Legal Zoom: Do It Yourself Legal Documents

For those of you so inclined you should check out legalzoom.com to see the legal documents services they provide. I first heard about them on the Jim Rome Show, and in fact if you put the name Rome in the promotions box at checkout you are supposed to get a discount.

Now, I'm not endorsing them. I'm simply pointing them out to you if you are thinking of forming an LLC or other such entity to protect either yourself or your investment properties. I still think their is real value in having an honest (well, that may be open to debate) to goodness attorney working for you and intimately familiar with your situation. But if you are independent and always looking to save money, legalzoom may appeal to you.

Good luck. If you use them, let me know your thoughts!

2 comments:

Erik Moore, Attorney at Law said...

Chris, I have not seen or used the document forms that Legal Zoom offers, but, as an attorney, I of course am not excited to see people creating their own legal documents. That is not because I am losing business with do-it-yourselfers. At the end of the day, resolving disputes and going to court is actually more lucrative than preventing the disputes by drafting a quality document. Is that more rewarding or fulfilling for a business or real estate attorney? Not usually. Not for me, anyway.

The thought is that there are simple deals and business formations out there in which a form document used by a non-lawyer probably works out fine. The trouble is, there are no simple deals and it takes a trained professional to interpret and properly use the forms. I use forms all the time. Just like every other attorney out there, I have my own form bank that I use to pick out provisions and terms for document drafting. The difference between a lawyer choosing between various "boilerplate" provisions and a non-lawyer choosing them is that the lawyer actually understands their significance and how they apply to the deal today and how they will apply to the deal twenty years from now.

Using a lawyer, just like using a real estate investment advisor, should be looked at as a business investment. That lawyer is helping the real estate investor make money and protect his or her money. Being part of that investment or business planning team is very rewarding and a lot of fun for the lawyer. While crises management is exciting, I would rather build something with my client.

I get scared when business professionals start creating or using legal forms without the advice of a lawyer. I have very savy business people in my office all the time after they have signed or created a document without the benefit of a lawyer and something has popped up that they did not anticipate. Of course, their document has not anticipated it either.

So, the form documents may work for someone's needs, but you risk a lot.

Chris Lengquist said...

In the interest of full disclosure I invited Eric to read and comment on this post.

Almost like having insurance, I think you would still want to have an attorney involved. When I did my will and living will I didn't use a form readily available for a small fee. I went to an attorney. I would do it again.

If I was drawing up the purchase of a complex commercial investment I wouldn't use the KCRAR boilerplate contracts, I'd advise my client to seek legal counsel in drawing up their offer.

It's my job as a realtor to point my clients to peopel that can help them. I made this post availabe to everyone because sometimes my clients know they are the smartest people in the room and can do everythig from real estate investment calculations to legal documents all on their own. :)