Saturday, January 13, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Legal Kits

I suppose that I could write that you should hire a lawyer each time you are dealing with a legal issue. That is not realistic. We all sign contracts without consulting a lawyer. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me to review a contract to buy or lease a car, although for many of us a car is a major expense. Sometimes when people consult me in respect of a legal issue, I give them some basic advice to assist them in representing themselves. For example, there are many small claims cases when the cost of hiring a lawyer to handle the whole suit exceeds any financial benefit of winning the case.

When is it more appropriate to hire a lawyer than to handle a legal matter yourself?

If you are dealing with a legal issue, before you decide to handle it on your own, you might consider the following:

1. What is the risk that something will go wrong?
2. Do you know all of the potential pitfalls?
3. What are the consequences to you if something does go wrong?
4. What are the consequences to others if something goes wrong?
5. What is the cost of hiring a lawyer to assist you?
6. Do you know all of your options? Or might a lawyer be able to advise you of alternatives?
7. Would you benefit from the views of someone else with experience with the type of legal issue you are dealing with?
8. How much time and energy will you have to spend learning how to do it yourself, and learning all of the legal ramifications?

Consider each of these questions whenever you read about a do-it-yourself will, probate, divorce, incorporation or whatever kit. You might only have to send $29.99 for the stationary, but what are the risks and real costs to you and your family if something goes wrong?

No comments: