Did You Know Legal Forms from an Office Store May Fail?

Do you need a legal form such as a Florida durable power of attorney, or a last will and testament? If so, finding one is simple. All you need to do is visit your local office supply store. If you have a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with a reliable internet connection, you can purchase these forms on the office store’s website. You should be aware, however, that either approach carries definite risks. This is due to the likelihood the “document” will fail, leaving you or your family to cope with unintended consequences.

We frequently receive questions from our clients, friends, and advisors we work with as to why the simple option cannot work. Let us share some critical information that you need before making the choice to use forms instead of an estate planning and elder law attorney.

First, the legal forms found at office stores are usually generic versions of documents that attorneys use in practice areas ranging from business law to contract, real estate, family, and estate law. For the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on the latter. In addition to those we have already mentioned, common types of forms are: 

  • Living trust agreement 
  • Living will 
  • Power of attorney for healthcare 
  • Revocation of living trust 

Of course the cost will vary depending on what you need, but you can generally expect to spend less than fifty dollars.

This may lead you to a second question such as: are these forms valid? The short answer to this question is, “technically, yes.” This is because legal forms available at office supply stores can serve as frameworks that can be supplemented with your personal information. There is significant danger, however, with basic, “boilerplate” forms. As such, they do not allow for any degree of flexibility and do not take your needs into consideration. 

Take a Florida durable power of attorney form from an office supply store as a case in point.  Unlike the formal version used by an attorney, the store-bought variety does not allow you to include contingencies for unanticipated circumstances. Hypothetically, this could preclude you from naming someone else to act on your behalf if something happened to your original agent. Further, this document, in almost all circumstances, does not include the critical superpowers you need in Florida. Unfortunately, since it does not accommodate specific language, this type of power of attorney form could cause you to make costly mistakes. These include giving your agent too much authority, or failing to give him or her enough power to act on your behalf.

To put it plainly, taking shortcuts when it comes to your future and your legal rights is never a good idea. Why not let us help you create a plan that will serve you best in the short term and the long run? Do not wait to contact our office to plan forward for what you need both now and in the future.