Ever Heard that the Word “And” is Different Than the Word “Or” in Legal Documents – A Cautionary Tale When Using Online Legal Forms

In this day and age of instant communication, instant news, and instant information, another item that has resulted in instant access is legal documents. Many families and many small businesses believe, unknowingly, that a good way to cut costs is to perform their own legal services or just to obtain forms online.

However, as the old saying goes, buyer beware.

I have heard several stories where the use of online forms has caused significant problems for families and for businesses. For instance, have you ever heard of the saying when it comes to legal documents the word “and” is different than the word “or?” Well, unfortunately, it is true when it comes to a poorly drafted legal document.

One such of these cases occurred in a probate case down in Florida. In this case, a woman used an online legal form service to create a Will. However, this form did not have a residuary clause. This is a fancy legal phrase meaning where all of your other property goes after your death that is not specifically distributed to a specific person or persons. The result was a case that went all the way up to the Florida Supreme Court before it was decided.

Regardless of the decision of the Florida Supreme Court, it is safe to assume that this woman would not have wanted her family members to fight over her assets and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees in the process.

A few years ago, I heard a story about a company that used an online contract for their business. The contract was not very well drafted, and the result was litigation for the company when they attempted to terminate the contract at the end of the contract term. It turned out that this contract had an automatic renewal provision that was very vague.

These are just two cautionary tales when it comes to using online forms for your legal needs. There are countless more that occur every day to individuals, families, and businesses.

Why don’t online forms work? There are a few reasons that tend to be overlooked by many who use them:

  • The Creator of the Online Form Does Not Know The Purpose in Which You Will Use the Form
  • The Creator of the Online Form Does Not Know the Specific Situation of Your Legal Issue
  • The Creator of the Online Form Does Not Understand What Your Thought Process Was When Deciding to Use this Form


These are just three of the reasons that online forms tend to not work out the way that they are intended. There are usually many, many more due to the specific issues that affect each and every legal issue for which an individual, family, or business is concerned with when they are using online forms.

As the old saying goes, this is being penny smart and pound foolish.

I recently heard a fellow attorney tell me that hiring the cheapest lawyer in town is very expensive.

Before you decide whether to use an online form for your legal needs, please make sure you speak with a qualified and experienced attorney about your legal issue.

Give your Nashville, Tennessee Attorney, Dan Perry, a call at (615) 472-2482 to discuss your legal issue!

Daniel A. Perry
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Focused on helping seniors, individuals with disabilities and small business owners make informed decisions.
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