This may seem obvious, but it pays to be cautious when using a document preparation company, or a form generator, to assist with mechanic’s liens and notices. There are many reasons for this, but I was prompted to think about it by a short blog post over at the TaxProf Blog. In that post, a recent tax court case is discussed wherein the petitioner used Turbo Tax and claims she made “honest mistakes” due to unfamiliarity with the program. Like usual – the court didn’t buy it.
Most document preparation or self-help legal document companies operate in a similar manner to Turbo Tax – you provide information, and voila, a document is created. With Zlien, however, there is more to the service. Zlien will perform research in order to find property owners, or lenders. The most important thing to remember, though, is that with any of this type of service, the final choice of what goes in the document is up to you, and only you. In the previously mentioned case, the information the entered into the program by the petitioner was incorrect. Thus, the mistakes were made by the petitioner not the Turbo Tax program. Any document preparation or self-help company is only as good as the information it is given. Mistakes in entering information into a software system may result in improper or insufficient documents. In fact, even if the preparation company knows that the information is insufficient or incorrect – they cannot make the correction for you unilaterally, or even directly tell you the information is wrong. This is because companies may not give legal advice if they are not lawyers, or even if they are but do not want to create an attorney/client relationship. And really, you don’t want them to – this is part of what helps keep the prices so low.
Fortunately, though, we at Zlien make every effort to provide the information necessary for the customer to make the right decisions and include the correct information. We are constantly expanding resources – like this blog, and the resources section of the website to make it easier on customers.
But, even with these safeguards and resources, it is important to remember that the documents prepared can only be as good as the information provided. It just helps to have a company like Zlien there lending a hand.