Why use a Solicitor?

DIY legal documents and the Google School of Law

Why would you spend hundreds of dollars having a lawyer write up a document that you are more than capable of writing up yourself?  In some cases, there may be no adverse consequences of a person producing their own legal documents.  Unfortunately those cases are the minority.  Here are some examples of things that can go wrong…

  • The Post Office Will Kit. The Will kit is a great product.  It’s unfortunate that all the other words added by the will-maker can have completely unintended results.  Take for instance the woman who leaves “1 Smith Street, Smithsville to my daughter” and the “rest and residue to my son”.  Mum thought that the “rest and residue” would be some second hand furniture and cash in the bank of around $10,000.  Unfortunately, the home had to be sold when Mum went into care.  She was unable to make a new Will.  The gift of the house to the daughter failed because the home was no longer owned by Mum.  The way Mum had worded her will meant that the “rest and residue” (including the sale proceeds from the house) went to the son.  This left a huge mess for the daughter to try to mop up after Mum passed away.
  • The Contract to Sell Real Estate.  A gentleman sells his investment home to his tenant without the help of a real estate agent.  The gent retrieves from his file a Contract document from when he purchased the property back in 1994, whites-out the particulars and re-inserts the tenant’s details and a new purchase price.  Taking comfort in the thought he now has an unconditional contract to sell his investment, he signs a contract on another property.  The tenant cancels the first contract on technical grounds because certain new legal requirements have not been complied with.  He now has no funds to complete the second purchase in time.
  • DIY Conveyancing.  A seller decides that there’s nothing to Conveyancing, so they’ll look after their own legals.  They arrive at settlement and discover there’s a mortgage registered over their Title Deed even though they paid the Bank back over 10 years ago.  Settlement doesn’t occur, the Buyer cancels the contract and the Seller’s back to the drawing board with the sale of their home.
  • Google School of Law.  Google is brilliant – provided you know what you’re searching for.  A person signed a contract to buy a business in his own name “and/or nominee” and later tried to nominate his new Company to be the buyer.  In Queensland, this can result in double stamp duty payable on the transfer to him and then to his company.  He had searched the stamp duty rules in another jurisdiction not realising it was a State based tax, with special rules applying in Queensland in relation to nominees.

In many cases it is uneconomical and inefficient to try to do your own legal work.  Often your solicitor can help you for a fraction of what it will cost you if you get it wrong.