Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Why Choose an FALDP member as your legal document preparer:

Why Choose an FALDP member as your legal document preparer:.

A legal document preparer is never a substitute for an attorney. However, if all a consumer needs is properly prepared documents, a legal document preparer may be just the right choice. Legal document preparers may not provide legal advice or representation, but if no advice or representation is needed, consider the services of a legal document preparer. Members of the Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers must meet certain standards in order to join this association. Among these requirements are: 

  • Completing our Online Courses - INTRO & a content specific course, or;
  • Two years experience preparing Florida legal documents, or;
  • Two year paralegal course, or;
  • A combination of related professional experience and education, and
  • Above average proficiency in spoken and written English;
  • Acknowledges and agrees to follow the rules set forth by the Florida Bar Association and the Florida Supreme Court regarding UPL;
  • Agrees to refrain from offering legal advice, and to refrain from representing themselves as legal experts.
  • Agrees to abide by the FALDP Pledge.

Six Ways our Members Help Consumers

1. Providing Legal Information. A document preparer can assist consumers by locating laws, cases, and court rules. Although, the interpretation of this legal information is considered legal advice, locating them and providing them to consumers is perfectly fine. For example, on many of the instruction sheets for Florida Family Law Supreme Court approved forms, a Florida Statute is referenced, but the statute itself does not appear. Many Florida Statutes are straight forward and do not require legal interpretation. Providing the statute itself to the consumer may be all that is needed for the consumer to make an informed decision.

2. Explaining Procedure. Many consumers are stymied by not knowing the steps in their case. A document preparer can explain procedure so that the consumer knows what to do next, or what to expect next. And the consumer can also get a better idea of time frames and deadlines once he has a basic understanding of legal and court procedure.

3. Preparing Documents. Document preparers help consumers by preparing complete and proper documents to file in their case. Sometimes a form's instructions includes a list of which additional forms must be filed at the same time. However, sometimes the list is incomplete or more forms that must be filed at the same time are listed on yet another form's instructions. While a document preparer may not select forms for a consumer to file, showing the consumer which forms are required according to the court's written instructions helps the consumer follow the court's rules and moves their case along.

4. Formatting Documents. While many consumers may be able to fill out forms themselves, consumers may not be aware of specific formatting requirements, such as font, font size, margins, etc. By providing the court with properly formatted documents the consumer

4. Active Listening. Legal document preparers may not offer legal advice, but there are no rules to say a document preparer should not actively listen to their customers. Asking questions that help the customer arrive at their own decisions or acting as a sounding board may be the most valuable aspects of hiring a legal document preparer.

5. Flat Fee Pricing. Most document preparers offer flat fee pricing for various form sets. The flat fee pricing allows consumers to know in advance how much to expect to spend. And, rolled into the flat fee pricing plan, most document preparers also include corrections and minor revisions at no additional charge.

6. Affordability. Since consumers are only paying document preparers for limited nonlawyer services, the fees document preparers charge are much lower than an attorney might charge for similar document preparation services. By definition, document preparers do not provide legal advice, and if the consumer has no need for legal advice then there is no reason to pay for it.

So, for consumers who do not require legal advice or representation, a legal document preparer may be their best option.


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