A quick and dirty way to look for front end damage (forks, bars, whatever) is to turn the bars from lock to lock. Measure the distance from the bar to the tank on one side and then measure the distance on the other side. You can usually get a pretty good idea with your fingers (IOW, two finger breadth on one side, three on the other as an example), though a measuring tape will be more accurate. If the measurements are the same on each side, you can be fairly certain the front end is good. If there is a discrepency, than you have something going on, but you'll still have to figure out what it is.
Buying something wrecked can save you a lot of money and net you a good bike for a major discount. It can also be a money pit. If you can get it for less than what you can part it out for (if all else fails) than you've made a good buy.