Software Gets Thumbs Up
by Larry Blasko, Associated Press, December 2002
For more articles visit
Nature sends fleas to irritate dogs and lawyers to irritate
humans. But there are software programs that can minimize the
legal bite and itch, and one of them is Family Lawyer 2003
Deluxe Home and Business from Broderbund software for Windows
98 and later machines.
Although it's nicely arranged and easy to use, the program
offers pages and pages of fill-in-the-blank documents in
legalese that address common situations.
Tenant late in paying the rent? Shoot them a pay-up-or-else
Is that cough starting to sound troubling? Don't forget a
In general, the documents cover most aspects of estate
planning, health care, real estate, business and employment.
That sort of meat-and-potatoes legal stuff is spiced with
things like FBI-CIA records request form and identity theft
The software includes the American Bar Association's Family
Legal Guide and a Plain Language Law Dictionary. The
dictionary is especially helpful when you get a letter
sprinkled with Latin legalisms or strange terms like
"abatement of bequest." (That's the procedure carried out when
you die leaving the kids a million dollars each and your
executor discovers your entire estate, after debts, is worth
Also included is that electronic page-turner, "Teach Yourself
Estate Planning in 24 Hours." Just the thing to warm a long
winter's night. And Harvard Law professor Arthur Miller
answers questions in various videos.
Like all such software, this Broderbund effort is at great
pains to say it is no substitute for a real, fangs-out lawyer.
There are probably two root motivations here, one being the
truth that if a hostile lawyer has slithered into your life,
the only recourse is to hire your own to slither right back.
The other is that lawyers take a dim view of things that
purport to do what they do at a fraction of the price.
So the following sentence should not be construed as offering
legal advice: Paying the $29.99 for the program can save you a
bundle on the everyday notices and business forms that pepper
our lives. If the Request To Remove from Direct Mailing List
form works even partially, it will be worth the price, for
Broderbund products are widely available at retail and online.
Broderbund offers the product with a 90-day guarantee that
says if you're not completely satisfied, they'll exchange it
for a product of equivalent value or refund your money. A look
down the list of forms in the product failed to discover a
One other caveat, if you live in Louisiana, the estate
planning documents aren't valid. (Napoleanic law still haunts