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PDF Web Forms

Here are a few compelling disadvantages of using web forms.

Mathematical Deficiencies. If this isn't the most significant drawback to court Internet forms, it's one of the most significant. The web PDF forms are often referred to as "dumb" forms. One reason is that the forms don't do math. They can't even add a simple column of numbers! On an inventory or account, when a client brings in forgotten, unknown, or updated information, the new information changes the subtotal of property of that type as well as the grand total for all property. With web forms the update must be effected manually, sometimes by completely retyping the form or using white out. With an application, enter the change in value and everything else (relevant subtotals and totals) update automatically. Ready to print in seconds.

Repetitive Information. If lack of math smarts isn't the most persuasive reason for avoiding web forms, this is it. With a dedicated application, you enter repetitive information once. A good example is a lengthy legal description of real estate. Once entered in a dedicated application, a simple mouse click allows you to send the description and value to Form 4.0 (Application for Authority to Administer), Form 6.0 (Inventory & Appraisal), Form 12.1 (Certificate of Transfer), and Form 13.1 (Receipts & Disbursements). The same is true for basic information like names, addresses, date of death, next of kin, etc. Repetitive information populates across all forms, not just a form. With the Internet forms, all (or just about all) this information must be retyped--a considerable waste of time that clients won't want to pay for.

Limited Saving. Not all court Internet forms are save-capable, but the ones that are only save the individual form on which you are working. At a case's conclusion, you could end up with dozens of separate files. In a dedicated application, everything is stored in the same file. Think of the way a tax application saves the entire complement of taxpayer's forms in one file-- not fifty different files.

Difficult Modifications. Of course, if you can't save your files--and not all court web forms do--modifications are limited to correction fluid. If you are able to save your files, you'll be able to enter the change, but if the change is related to common information, like the spelling of a name, you'll be required to make the correction over and over again in every location and in every file in which it occurs. In a dedicated application you make the change in a central location and the change perpetuates everywhere else automatically. If clients were perfect, they would provide you with all the relevant facts and documentation in the first interview. Because that never happens, the ability of a dedicated app to reopen the file, make a change, and print the corrected form(s) in seconds is a substantial advantage over Internet forms.

Internet Problems. Web forms are subject to the vagaries of the Internet such as file errors ("File Not Found"), web site problems ("Page Not Available"), and Internet issues in general ("Can't Connect To Internet"). This is never a problem with dedicated applications. They're resident on your computer. If you're computer's working, you're in business.

Current Forms. Internet forms are sometimes not up to date. For example, in 2012, the an amended Certificate of Transfer had not appeared at all the various local Probate Court web sites (or even the Ohio Supreme Court's web site) as of May of that year although the law became effective January 1st.

Incorrect Forms. Sometimes the web forms do not comply with the Supreme Court's mandatory typographical specifications. One surprising oversight is the use of serif fonts when the Supreme Court's rules require sans serif fonts. There are many other examples.

Missing Forms. Because the web forms are designed to be generic and to be used by non-attorneys, in many instances, Judgment Entries or other forms used by law offices are missing and only applications and consents are included.

Bottom line. The Court's web forms are not designed or optimized for consistent, professional use. Using a computer program to prepare these forms has all the advantages of using a word processor over a typewriter to draft a 40-page appellate brief.

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