The Types of Legal Documents Paralegals Can Create and Prepare


Among their many responsibilities, paralegals are often tasked with drafting routine legal documents. These documents can be for clients or for the law firm. Because these documents tend to follow standard forms and templates, they are relatively easy for paralegals to create. But like all legal documents, the content must be precise and accurate. Something as simple as a misspelled word or missing comma can change a document's meaning or render it invalid.
Following are the types of legal documents paralegals often create:
Contracts -- A contract is an agreement between two or more parties to exchange goods or services for some type of benefit, known as consideration. (Consideration is usually money, but could be goods or services as well.) To be a valid contract, it must contain several key elements:
            1. An offer
            2. An acceptance of the offer
            3. A promise to perform
            4. Consideration (the promise of payment in some form)
            5. A time or event when performance must occur
            6. Terms and conditions for the performance (details!)
To be valid, a contract must be signed by all parties involved in the exchange. Also, the exchange itself must be legal. A contract for the performance of an illegal activity cannot be enforced.
Wills -- A will, sometimes called a "last will and testament," is a document that expresses how you want your property and personal possessions distributed after your death. Wills can be simple -- just give everything to your spouse -- or it can be very complex.
Key elements of a will include:
1. The name of an executor, the person responsible for seeing that the terms of the will are fulfilled.
2. The naming of guardians for living children under the age of 18, if any.
3. A declaration of how debts and taxes should be paid.
4. Specifying how personal property should be distributed to survivors and heirs.
To be a valid will, you must have the mental wherewithal to make sound, reasonable decisions (this is called capacity), must name beneficiaries, sign the document and have that document witnessed by two disinterested individuals. (In this case, disinterested means not being named in the will.)
Trusts -- A trust is an arrangement in which a third party -- known as the trustee -- holds assets such as money or property for one or more beneficiaries. Many people create trusts to avoid probate, the long and often costly processes of state review of assets following a person's death. There are two main types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust allows your assets to avoid probate, but you keep control over your assets during your lifetime. You can also change the conditions of the trust at any time. Because you keep control, the trust is considered part of your estate and is subject to estate taxes after you die. An irrevocable trust is a permanent arrangement that cannot be changed once established. You give up all control over the trust and its assets. An irrevocable trust is considered to be outside your estate and is therefore not subject to estate taxes after your death.
Litigation Documents -- A litigation is the flip-side of a contract. Instead of an agreement, two or more parties have a disagreement and attempt to get goods, services or other kinds of consideration from the other via a lawsuit. Paralegals are often assigned to prepare the documents associated with these legal actions. Such documents can include complaints (the claim filed with the court that starts the lawsuit), interrogatories (a list of questions and answers to and from suit participants and witnesses), and discovery materials, which is evidence each side in a dispute must turn over to the other.
Communication Documents -- Much of a paralegal's day is simply spent communicating with others, often by email. Communication recipients can include other attorneys within the firm, opposing counsel, court officers, witnesses, technical experts, investigators and outside vendors.
As a paralegal, all your work will be subject to review by the attorneys for whom you work. They must take ultimate responsibility for the quality of the documents you produce. There fore, accurate and precise document creation is a must. 

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