As a registered legal document assistant, A People’s Choice can prepare many types of common legal documents. In fact, the help of an experienced legal document assistant is often all that is needed for most simple legal processes. What does this mean? It means that A People’s Choice can help prepare family law forms (e.g. divorce filings, child custody agreements, adoption papers, paternity cases, probate, name change), probate filings, estate planning documents, wage garnishments, business formation documents, adoption forms, civil litigation filings, and many other legal documents.
Requirements for Legal Document Preparers / Legal Document Assistants
California requires that legal document preparers (known as legal document assistants) have specific qualifications to provide legal document services. For example, a legal document assistant must have a certain number of credits in a legal education program or have legal training working for a licensed attorney. Legal document assistants require continuing education and a bond to protect consumers. A legal document assistant must renew their registration and bond every two years.
There are many benefits to using a legal document assistant. However, just like in any profession, not all legal document preparers are the same nor do they offer the same service. When selecting a legal document assistant, you should review their qualifications, experience, and reputation. These three critical factors play an essential role when selecting a legal document assistant. You should also compare pricing. Some clients discover companies that charge as much as an attorney would charge for the same service! A People’s Choice has over 38 years of experience and thousands upon thousands of happy clients. Our fees are reasonable and affordable, and we offer full case management services.
Benefits of Using a Legal Document Preparer vs Hiring a Lawyer
The most significant advantage of using a legal document preparer vs hiring a lawyer is the cost savings. For example, if you have a legal issue that is relatively straightforward, such as a name change or LLC filing, the legal process is reasonably simple. The complicated part is preparing the documents, which is what a legal document preparer would help with. With the papers prepared by a legal document assistant, it becomes easy to get through the process without hiring a lawyer.
Most legal issues require the filing of a petition, form, or some other document, and following specific steps. Some materials and forms are confusing and difficult to understand. In this regard, you could spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to correctly complete the forms. Also, courts have rules for legal documents. If your document does not conform to the rules, you may have to correct and refine it, which could incur additional court fees as well as delay your case.
In every legal case, consumers can choose to hire a lawyer to prepare legal documents and represent them. On the other hand, however, if all you need are name change forms, it is probably not worth paying an attorney three to four hundred dollars an hour for the simple tasks required to do that. A legal name change process is very procedural, requiring the completion of certain documents that do not need legal analysis. The hearing is straightforward and does not need an attorney to appear. Lastly, registered legal document preparers charge much less than attorneys. Consequently, hiring a document preparer can save you time and give you peace of mind that the forms are complete and correct.
Are there Downsides of Using a Legal Document Preparer?
The main drawback for using a document preparer vs. a lawyer is that the services a registered legal document preparer provides can only cover document preparation and case processing or management. In this regard, if your case is complicated or has unique issues, you probably need the help of an attorney. Explicitly, a registered document preparer cannot give legal advice, or answer legal questions about your legal rights or remedies. Also, a legal document preparer cannot recommend to you which forms you need, nor represent you in court. California law details explicitly the role of a legal document assistant, including what they can and cannot do. Remember, these laws were written by lawyers who, when the law was created, did not want people to have options for low-cost legal document help.
Selecting Forms for Your Legal Process
It may surprise you to learn that a legal document assistant cannot help you choose forms. Yes, the ability for a legal document preparer to select forms for clients is actually prohibited by California law. As a result, customers often ask how we can help them if they do not know what forms they need. A key point to remember is that this provision was incorporated into the California statute by lawyers who did not want people to have a low-cost option for legal help. Although at first glance this provision may seem to prohibit us helping people, there is a workaround supported by the California Association of Legal Document Assistants.
In California, a registered document preparer can give you legal materials that have been written or approved by a lawyer. These materials will tell you which forms you need the legal document assistant to prepare for your particular matter. Problem solved! These materials also serve another purpose. They provide consumers with important information on the legal process and steps necessary to complete specific legal procedures. These materials make it easy for people to use the services of a legal document preparer within the restrictions of California law.
How does this work? For example, you want to file an uncontested divorce and hire a registered document preparer to help you. The legal document preparer will give you informational materials that will name the forms that an uncontested divorce requires. The contract for services of the legal document preparer will list these documents as part of their document preparation services. The preparer can fill out all the documents you need, but cannot answer specific questions about divorce laws or particular strategies you might want to use.
The services of a legal document assistant usually cover routine, uncomplicated legal process. It is often just a matter of getting customers through the legal process, making sure we prepare documents with the information they provide and timely file them. As a result, legal advice questions do not typically come up. However, if they do, there are options for consumers to get quick, low-cost answers from an attorney. As another example, a registered legal document preparer can help with creating a trust or a will, but cannot answer questions about tax implications of the contents of the estate planning documents.
With this in mind, if you have a complicated legal matter with multiple issues and will need legal advice or help to determine legal strategy, you may need to hire a lawyer. Alternatively, as many of our clients have discovered, it is easy to get a lawyer to answer your legal questions ahead of time and then hire the legal document assistant to prepare the documents. This allows customers to get the legal advice they need from an attorney but still have the option to have a legal document assistant prepare their documents at a far lower cost than the attorney would charge.
Don’t overpay for your legal needs! Contact A People’s Choice at 800-747-2780 to learn how we can help you with prepare your legal documents.
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