When you start to think about it legal documents are everywhere. Sometimes you can find them in the small print at the bottom of an advert, or on a receipt for something that you purchased. Other times a legal document is something personal to you, like a will or a contract.

This section explains situations where you might need a legal document and who you can contact to create it for you.

Do I need a legal document? 

There are many types of legal documents covering different situations. Depending on your issue you might need one created for you.

They can help to protect you - for example you may need a legal document to put in writing something you have agreed with someone else.

It can be very important to set down the full details of what has been agreed in writing so, if things go wrong, you can prove what was agreed between you and the other person.  A legal document may say exactly what will happen if either one of you breaks the agreement.

Legal documents for legal reasons

There are situations where you must have a certain type of document for legal reasons. Some of these have to be prepared in a certain way. Some legal documents that you might come across include:

  • Wills - these explain what you want to happen to your belongings, or how your family will be cared for after you die
  • Deeds of Trust – if you buy something together with other people, like a house, you can use this type of document to set out what the responsibilities of each person will be
  • Contracts – you can use this to set out the exact details of what has been agreed between you and someone else
  • Tenancy agreement – this is an example of a contract, and is a document that sets out the arrangements where a tenant rents a property from a landlord
  • License or Permit– these are used to give someone else permission to do something, and they often set out how long someone may act for you or be allowed to do something, as well as the fee they will pay if there is one
  • Witness Statement - this is used to set out what a person states happened in a situation
  • Pleadings –these documents are prepared to explain to a court what a persons’ case is and what they want the court to do
  • Statutory Declaration – these are often prepared to set out and confirm the truth of specific information that is required, and they must be signed in a special way before a lawyer
  • Court Order – if an agreement is reached in a civil court the details may need to be set out in a document for the judge to approve
  • Consent Agreement –these are used in divorce cases, or dissolving of a civil partnership, to set out the details of agreements between the couples about the things they own that a court can then formally record in a court order

Lawyers can create documents like these for you and make sure you can rely on them when you need to.

They can also help you in other ways with legal documents. For example some legal documents must be signed in a specific way - sometimes in front of other people who are known as witnesses, or sometimes in front of another lawyer.

If you think you might need a legal document you could make an appointment to visit a law firm and talk to a lawyer about your needs. The type of lawyer you will see initially will usually be a Chartered Legal Executive, CILEx Practitioner or a Solicitor. However you might also need the help of a barrister for the preparation of some documents.

You can find out about the different types of lawyer on our types of lawyers page and learn more about the ways they can help you – including how to go about finding the right lawyer for you.