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Guide to Online Legal Forms

By
Kayla Harrison
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jul 01, 2018
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> Business Basics
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Why Online Legal Forms Services?

Attorneys are expensive, even for simple issues such as petitioning for a name change. Most legal needs, however, can be done on your own. All you have to do is fill out the proper form and pay the filing fee at the courthouse. Even complex issues, such as divorce or establishing a DBA (doing business as), can be done entirely on your own with the right paperwork. Online legal services have the forms you need in addition to some tips on how to fill them out and file them. Some of the best online legal forms we found include US Legal, FindLegalForms and Rocket Lawyer.

Online Legal Forms: What to Look For

When evaluating online legal services, it is important to know which forms you need for your particular legal issue. Some online legal services specialize in only personal or family law forms. Others focus entirely on business forms. Regardless of the form you need, it is important to ensure that the service you choose has state-specific forms so you can be in compliance with your own state's requirements. Here are a few additional features to look for when searching for the right forms. 

Types of Forms Available

The best online legal services have forms for as many legal issues as possible. These include business, real estate, financial and personal forms. They also feature guides on how to fill the forms out. Some of the specific forms available include employment agreements, sample letters, waiver or release forms, job invoices, credit applications, loan agreements, DBA registration and business startup cost worksheets. 

To find the best legal service and forms, you first need to figure out what your needs are. If you’re looking for managing employees, starting a business or protecting your ideas, you’ll need to make sure the online legal service has the forms to fit that need. Some services have more forms available in one category, such as personal law or business, than others. However, the best online legal services have extensive lists of forms in a variety of categories. 

Legal Resources & Support

In addition to providing the legal forms, the best online legal services have many resources to help support you throughout the entire process of filling out and filing your legal forms. Some of the most helpful resources to look for are legal guides, which define legal terms and give instruction on how to properly fill out your forms, and a legal directory so you can find an experienced attorney in your area for some one-on-one help. 

A few online legal services offer preparation services. This means you can choose the forms you need and have an experienced lawyer help you fill out and file them in your state. Some services have lawyers on staff so you can ask a legal question without committing to the preparation services. 

Customer support should include at least reliable email support, though telephone and live chat support are also good for a quicker response to your questions. Most services offer an FAQs section online, though many are geared toward the definitions of specific legal terms rather than actual customer service-type questions. 

Legal issues can be scary and costly to address. Using a quality online legal service can help direct you through the work of defending your legal position while offering some legal support when you need it.

Pricing

Forms are available to purchase individually or in packages. Most packages are cheaper to purchase than the individuals, and are a better option if you need several different forms. US Legal can range from around $9.95 to $21.95-plus per individual form. Its packages can cost anywhere from $45 and up, depending on the amount and the type of forms needed.

Some services offer subscription packages. FindLegalForms, for example, offers subscriptions that are available per month, per six months, or per year. There are standard or premium packages. With the premium package you have an unlimited amount of downloads of all 15,000-plus documents. The standard gives you a 10 percent discount on all document purchases, but does not allow for unlimited downloads.

Common Online Legal Form Questions & Answers

Have an online legal form question of your own?
Ask an Expert

What legalities do I have to go through for changing my business name?

7 responses
7
Responses
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Hi Sara - a name change usually requires a state or local government filing, depending on what kind of entity you set up your business as. Sole proprietors usually have local filings, LLC's and Corporations usually have state filings. So your original name registration would tell us what requirements you have. In the old days that was the first concern - isn't it amazing that now the domain name has become the first concern? Good luck - let me know if I can help further. Rich V.

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Since it is likely that your income will be apportioned between the two states, and that you will continue to have a physical presence in both, you should comply with the registration requirements of each state. You should also consult your tax advisor as to form of business entity questions, if the amount of income justifies it. I'm in Virginia, so I can't advise on Michigan & California specifics, as I have no clients in those states. However, for California, I believe the appropriate agency...

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If either an attorney or a CPA have made the choice of entity determination, then yes, if you know what you are doing, there is no reason why you can't assist in the process-driven work of setting up an entity. You would never sign the papers on the owner's behalf, but would coordinate preparation, signature and filing. You should ask your client if she has confirmed with her CPA that a d/b/a is the best choice for her. As for whether a sole proprietor can have a tax ID, they are often...

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That is a question for your attorney. Laws are different in each state and many cities also have their on unique requirements. Do not take advice from anyone other than a professional in your state. As for the type of business, that is also a discussion to have with your attorney. You should also consult with your accountant as well, since there are different tax implications for each type of business.

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This is what's referred to as reconstructed records project, which I have plenty of experience in, having done this for startup founders such as yourself and other businesses that were somehow profitable while run out of the owner's checkbook (not recommended :-). Step 1 is to get the books in order, then Step 2 is to get with an experienced CPA or Enrolled Agent who likes to rehabilitate those in tax arrears. They are on your side and will manage the process for least impact on you and your...

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