What Document Preparers Won’t or Can’t Tell You

Document Preparers do not understand the legal meaning of the words they put in the documents they type out or print off for others.

What would be the response if a patient asked his or her physician just what was being prescribed and why and the physician responded, “That’s for you to find out.”   Such is the case where a document preparer having a minimum educational qualification of a GED high school diploma and two years of “document preparation experience” is by regulation instructed to respond to whomever has chosen to have their documents prepared.  (Just read the fine print and waiver/hold harmless provisions at the end of the Legal Zoom web page.)  There is no guaranty of fitness for purpose and equally annoying is the fact that the “preparer” has no formal education or understanding (and no liability for that matter) as to the legal meaning and effect of the words printed on any chosen form.

Legal education does not teach with forms; rather, only the history, meaning, and historic court application and interpretation of the specific legal terminology used.  Words do mean something and it is the attorney’s role to choose the proper and personalized combination of words that in almost all cases will not be subject to question or controversy whenever such terminology might be contested in court.  In fact, the whole purpose of seeking legal counsel is to avoid a court challenge and, if not so fortunate, then at least to prevail against such a court challenge.

Our office recently reviewed an entire estate planning “package” prepared by a document preparer and questions regarding terminology began to arise on the very first page of the very first document.   Our best advice was to start afresh in that the cost of critical review and comprehensive amendment of the documents to make them legally effective and acceptable would be prohibitive and, even then, possibly not complete.

Common usage and everyday terminology is not what legal documents consist of and, hence, for this very reason they are said to be legal documents.   The same applies to the physician’s language that is found on the written prescription and recommended dosage.


Please keep this in mind as you consider the best way to undertake any law related endeavor.