Sorting through legal matters can be complicated and even expensive, especially if you need to seek the counsel of an attorney. But there are some situations wherein a person who underwent paralegal training in NYC or any other city in the U.S. can help you without an attorney.
When do you need a paralegal?
Hiring a lawyer is expensive. An attorney in a small town can charge you $100 to $200 an hour, while a lawyer in a big city like New York can charge you $300 to $400 an hour.
If you’re facing a legal matter, there are two things you should think about before hiring a lawyer.
- Do you have the budget to hire an attorney?
- Does your legal matter need an attorney in the first place?
If it seems that the answer to the second question is “yes,” then you should find a way to come up with the funds to hire an attorney. But if you answer “no,” you should look for a paralegal to help you out. You can breathe more easily this time because these professionals don’t charge as much as lawyers do.
How can a paralegal help you?
Most of the scenarios that you can work with a paralegal without the presence of an attorney revolve around signing legal documents. A freelance paralegal can help you sort through legal documents that involve estate planning or powers of attorney.
If you need help with the following matters, then a paralegal is enough to do the job.
- Powers of attorney – A paralegal is qualified to help you prepare and draft a power of attorney document wherein you can specify what you want to happen to yourself in the event that you encounter a fatal or near-fatal accident, a serious illness, or a coma.
In this event, you can ask your paralegal to draft a document stating how you want to be treated in case you’re incapable of making the decision by then due to the precarious situation you’re in. For example, you encounter an accident that leaves you comatose. You can ask your paralegal to draft a document that in case this situation happens to you, you don’t want to be resuscitated. You can also specify in your document how you want your money or your properties to be handled in case you’re incapacitated and incapable of making a decision at that time.
- Bankruptcy petitions – When you’re experiencing a financially difficult time in your life and the amount of loans you’re incurring are too much for you to handle, then perhaps it’s time to file for bankruptcy.
What a paralegal can do to help you with this is to interview you and figure out how bad your situation is so that they can find the appropriate document for you to sign. Of course, a paralegal will still go through an attorney to file your bankruptcy case in court. But they will take care of all the documents you need to file beforehand. They will also take care of investigating your expenses, how far behind you are on your mortgage, etc.
- Divorce forms – A paralegal can also help you make sense and sign an uncontested divorce form. If you and your former spouse have reached an agreement as to who gets the house or the dog without having to take your divorce to the courts, then that means it is an uncontested divorce. And your paralegal can help you sort through the documents you need to sign and file it in the appropriate court so that you can move on with your life.
Paralegals can help you find and understand the appropriate documents for a particular situation. But don’t expect your paralegal to offer any legal advice because they are not allowed to do so.