I have seen many different types of legal agreement offerings on the internet. So how can you tell the difference between legal forms? And what considerations or factors should you be aware of when selecting a legal form? Well lets go through some, shall we?
Who makes the legal agreements?
Some come from lawyers (such as myself). Some are from non-lawyers. Some are from corporations. I always ask myself: who would I want to have prepared the legal form? Answer: a lawyer.
Are the legal forms made in compliance with local laws?
Some legal forms are very generic. I’ve seen standard legal forms which APPEAR to apply to every Canadian Province! But that could be VERY VERY BAD for the end user. For example, a Cohabitation Agreement, Residential Lease Agreement, or Employment Contract are all GOVERNED by provincial legislation. If you don’t know what that legislation is or says, you could be in deep trouble. For example, there is a requirement under the Ontario Family Law Act for an Ontario Cohabitation Agreement to be witnessed. There is no such legislation requirement in Alberta. Meanwhile, for married couples in Alberta, under the Matrimonial Property Act, any agreement which tries to govern the ownership and division of property for married couples (outside of the workings of that Act) will only be enforceable if (among other things), both parties to that agreement made an acknowledgement before a lawyer who does not represent the other spouse. There is no such legislative requirement for such an acknowledgment in Ontario (although it can always be argued that there should be). So be sure to read up on local laws when customizing and completing your legal form! That’s why we include a DL Guide that discusses the legal issues you should be aware of with your purchase of a legal form.
Are the legal agreements written in English?
Some websites ask you a series of generic questions (e.g. what’s your name, what’s your address, etc.) and then purport to create a legal agreement for you based on that information. The problem here is that you might be taken by surprise when it comes to what the terms and conditions in the legal agreement says. It’s just not written in English. It’s written in legalese. That’s why I took great care to try to ensure that our legal agreements were written in Humanese. What good is a contract that is too vague, long-winded, or complicated? Can’t a contract be clear and meaningful? I believe so. That’s why the STRUCTURE and CONTENT of our legal forms are the same: simple, clear, concise.
Is there any guidance?
When a lawyer is asked to draft something, the first they usually look for is a good template. Then they want some guidance about how to go about filling out the legal form. How and where do they insert clauses? What legal issues should they be concerned with? Wouldn’t it be great if someone held their hand and showed them how to customize it? Well, that’s exactly why I decided to throw in a ton of guidance with each purchase of a legal form. That guidance comes in the form of a video tutorial and two written guides. Asking a lawyer to prepare these things for you would otherwise cost thousands of dollars in legal fees. Here, you get them as free bonuses! I don’t see any other website in Canada offering the kind of guidance that we offer here…
Lawyer review of legal agreement?
Something that we offer is the ability to download your form, customize it, and then have a lawyer (such as myself) involved in reviewing your work and helping you finish it off. This may mean, for example with respect to a Cohabitation Agreement, that a lawyer reviews and finishes drafting the agreement as per the couple’s requirements and initial draft, provides a certificate of independent legal advice to one of the spouses, and then commissions the affidavits of the witnesses (all recommendations when you’re preparing to enter into a cohabitation agreement). I’m not sure if other websites do this…