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How to prepare legal documents.
Create legal documents to save time and money. Learn what types of documents you can prepare by yourself and what information to include.
What are legal documents?
From documents that state a contractual relationship to those that grant an agreed-upon right, legal documents serve as the backbone of the judicial system. While any kind of legal documentation can be complex, there are many instances in which non-lawyers can encounter legal documents in everyday life. An eviction notice, a last will and testament for a loved one, or a contract for construction on your home are some examples. Understanding how to sign, edit, and manage legal documents can be helpful in a number of business and personal situations.
When you need to be prepared.
If you work for a small company or are an entrepreneur, you will need to frequently draft items such as employment contracts, service agreements, and more, all of which can be finalized without legal aid. If you have personal legal matters that are relatively straightforward, like a name change or an advanced directive (also known as a living will), you can prepare those yourself, too. The ability to do so can speed up business and save you time and money.
While you can draft some documents with little help, it’s wise to consult with or hire a licensed attorney for legal document preparation services or to get legal advice for things like divorce proceedings, child support, and large estate planning.
Different types of legal documents.
There are three categories that most legal documents fall under. Understanding which one fits your needs goes a long way toward informing the format and language that you’ll want to use.
Most letters are legal documents that you can prepare without a lawyer. These include letters resolving disputes, responses to orders, mediation, and much more.
Also known as agreements, these documents detail parties’ obligations to one another and outline who or what will be governed and exactly how. Examples of directives are wills, trusts, contracts, and any other written agreements for services rendered.
These are documents filed in either federal or local court, like an affidavit, complaint, or motion. As a formal part of court proceedings, a certified legal document preparer should create these.
Formal legal entities like notaries can recognize more complex legal forms like articles of incorporation and property deeds. So a licensed attorney or law firm should prepare these for the best results.
Important points to include in a legal document.
Before you start preparing your legal forms, consider the intent of the document, and research the specific requirements for your jurisdiction. And, of course, consult legal guidance before continuing if necessary.
Look for examples or templates online for inspiration and as a foundation to help you get started. Here are some common components of legal documents:
Party details. List the names, numbers, addresses (email or physical), and any other relevant information of all parties involved. This can include people or companies.
Background information. Give a brief explanation of the legal issue at hand and share any pertinent legal details regarding it, like facts or evidence.
Motion. State your proposal or “motion” for how you will try to solve the legal matter with as much specificity as possible.
Roles and responsibilities. Clearly define the duties of each party involved to avoid ambiguity. You should also include other essential points like a financial obligation and a projected schedule or timeline.
Breaches or contingencies. Provide details on the next steps should something unexpected occur or if the terms of the contract have been made null and void through violation of the agreement.
Dates and signatures. Carve out space for all associated parties to sign and date after reviewing and acknowledging the document’s terms and conditions.
Make and manage legal forms with Adobe.
Whatever legal curveball you encounter, don’t balk — keep Adobe on deck and stay prepared.
E-docs let you craft and create customizable PDFs that fit your needs. Send your document for a digital signature safely and securely in a few clicks. Receive notifications on your favorite device when it is complete. Encrypted cloud storage, featuring firewalls, password protection, and e-signature tracing, means you can rest easy knowing your documents are safe and secure.
Adobe Acrobat Sign automatically creates a backup of your form once uploaded to your Adobe account. You can save the form as a template for all your future legal document needs. Cloud sync lets you access files wherever and whenever you need them, and you can find what you’re looking for in a breeze by intelligently organizing your forms. Adobe has all the tools to become your own personal paralegal, right at your fingertips.