A document preparer is someone who prepares legal documents for signatures by those involved in the documents but is not a lawyer. Typically, a document preparer is used when one or more people need to have official paperwork made, such as a commercial agreement, living will, or other legal document, while avoiding the expense of a lawyer. These services are often less expensive than using a lawyer and are typically performed by a group or individuals who have been certified by the country, state, or region in which they work.
The nature of the laws in many countries is such that legal documents are often created in ways that can be confusing or unnecessarily complicated when viewed by people who are not lawyers. These are often created to be as specific as possible to minimize the opportunities for others to break these documents or for someone to find loopholes or litigious opportunities within them. To avoid these types of abuses of legal documents and agreements, laws are often created to establish what must be contained in these documents.
A document preparer is typically called on to satisfy the requirements of these potentially convoluted laws by creating legal documents for other people, but at much less expense than a lawyer. Most countries have specific regulations governing who can become a document preparer, and these may also be up to individual regions within a country. In the United States, for example, a document preparer often has to gain certification within a particular state to be able to prepare documents for residents or businesses within that state.
This allows large companies to hire a number of certified document preparers for each state and provide the necessary services to those states. In California, however, certification must be gained within each specific county, and so larger document preparation groups often cannot help California residents. Other areas and countries will have different requirements for those who are allowed to prepare documents in those regions.
A document preparer is often used by private individuals who cannot pay the expenses of a lawyer and want a legal document made for them. These often include forms such as a last will and testament, living will, agreements between businesses and employees, and incorporation, partnership, and lease agreements. The necessary personal information is provided by the customer and that information is used by certified preparers to create the necessary forms, which can then be signed to create a legally binding document.