USE YOUR LIBRARY TO GET LEGAL FORMS AND INFORMATION

To those of us who use the internet, we recognize that with a little experience, and a good internet connection, most of the public information in the world is only a click away. Another way of stating this point, is that with an internet connection, you have access to all the information in all the encyclopedias ever published, all the phone numbers and addresses in all the current (and some old) phone books, nearly every user’s manual and parts list to every product in your home – and here’s the point germane to this series of articles – the internet provides you access to a blank form for nearly every public document you could need to file – tax forms, divorces, deeds, and the subject of my last two articles: Power of Attorney forms.

Most of us are adept at using the internet. I am of the age that if not for my profession, I would not have had the schooling, or motivation, or influence to learn to use the internet. When I was in law school, we were aware of the ability to use computer based legal research, but it was a new field. Now that I have been writing this article, I understand how frustrating and foreign the use of a computer is to the older generation (and remember I include myself in this group). I was basically forced to learn to use a computer and the internet to serve my clients, and if not for them, the internet would be as complicated to me as a V8 engine.

When your V8 breaks down or is not working properly, you have to pay a mechanic hundreds of dollars to find out what is wrong and get it fixed. When you need to use the internet, you do not have to pay a lawyer or accountant or internet expert to get on line. There is a secret that you need to become familiar with. Your local library has internet access, usually free to the public, and they have experts available to help you find whatever you need on the internet.

Thanks primarily to Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, virtually every library in the United States has computers connected to the internet, available for patrons to use. In the past, libraries had access to only the books housed in their building, and every book was listed in a card catalogue. Later the libraries formed library systems, shared the books among all the libraries in the system, and the library helped you search through maybe all the libraries in the state to find the book you wanted. Today the librarians will do the same thing, but using their internet connections can help you search nearly all the information in the world.

Don’t be intimidated by the internet. Most of the people in this world have no home internet access. Call your local library and explain that you know nothing about the internet, but that you would like help finding information about, “______” or that you need to get a particular government form. Ask them when would be the best time to visit the library to get some help searching the internet. They will suggest when the librarian is not on break, or when the kids are not there playing video games on computers, or chatting with friends using social media (Facebook, etc.). Those computers are research tools and you have a right to use them, and the right to the help of the librarians whose salaries you pay through your taxes.

And this brings us to the point of this article. I came to realize that the forms to create a Power of Attorney documents mentioned in my last articles are not easily available if one has no internet connection – so just visit your local library, mention the citations I have provided in the articles, and the librarian can help you print one. I called a government agency a few days ago, and if you do not have access to the internet, and do not want to visit the library, to get a draft of the Power of Attorney for Health Care form, you can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 217-785-2083 and they will mail you one.

There are more websites than I can mention available to help you through legal problems – none as good as consulting an attorney – but if you cannot afford to pay a professional, find a reputable site, and do your best. I can recommend www.law.siu.edu/selfhelp/ , the Southern Illinois University Law School Legal Clinic’s website for help with divorce, child support, visitation, custody, name changes, child guardianship, credit history, small claims, enforcing money judgments, power of attorney, adult guardianship, service of process, immigration, employing non-citizens, suing as a poor person, how to answer a complaint, defending a foreclosure, landlord tenant rights, eviction, Illinois gun laws, and expungement.

While you are researching an Illinois legal matter you might want to visit these sites: IllinoisLegalAid.org, IllinoisLegalAdvocate.org and IllinoisProBono.org.

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