Legalzoom Review for Will Preparation
Our review of LegalZoom will preparation found three levels of services: standard, gold, and vault packages. LegalZoom's prices are very reasonable when compared to a lawyer's fees, and it will save you a lot of time, hassle, and money. The company provides documents for business formation, wills and estate planning, trademarks, patents and copyrights, divorce, and name change. Read our LegalZoom Review for Will Preparation below to learn more.
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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021
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Estate planning attorneys no longer have a lock on will preparation. Do-it-yourself online services, books and software packages are popping up to make what required at least a few hundred-dollar visit to a lawyer’s office a much less expensive task doable without leaving your home or office. One such entity is LegalZoom, which advertises itself as a “legal document service.” You will find it on the web at www.legalzoom.com.
It was founded by attorneys and professes to “simplify the law and make it accessible for everyone.” Their website says that all of their forms were “developed by experienced attorneys.” So “you can be sure that their documents are dependable.” Their money-back satisfaction guarantee states:
“LegalZoom guarantees your satisfaction with our services and support. Because our company was created by top attorneys, we strive to be the best legal documentation service on the web. If you are not satisfied with our services for any reason, please contact us immediately and we will either correct the situation or provide a refund, your choice.”
LegalZoom’s home page is not flashy. It focuses on what services they offer with links to explanations and detailed information about their legal service offering. The company provides documents for business formation, wills and estate planning, trademarks, patents and copyrights, divorce and name change. It is not exactly a do-it-yourself model—you answer their questions and they create the document for you.
What Should You Know about Wills and Trusts with LegalZoom?
To learn about their estate planning document service, simply click on wills and living trusts and you will find descriptions of the estate documents they can prepare for you, a detailed chart comparing wills to living trusts, powers of attorney and living wills, and a link to LegalZoom’s education center. The education center provides an informative introduction to wills, a myriad of frequently asked questions and a glossary of estate-related terms. The website also offers a free estate planning guide to download to your computer. It is a short and plainly written synopsis of some estate-planning instruments, but it lacks many details that would be helpful to know before making choices about such devices.
Keep in mind, this website is not a substitute for an experienced attorney or sound legal advice in more complicated cases. This site provides templates and streamlined approaches for standard cases. LegalZoom has been able to help users with their legal rights and estate planning options. You may be surprised by just how simple advisory services can be.
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How Can You Contact LegalZoom Customer Service?
If you have questions about creating your will or other legal documents, LegalZoom has Customer Support available by phone from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time. If you send them an email, they say they will respond within one business day. LegalZoom Customer Support personnel have been described as friendly and very knowledgeable. If you have a question about their product, you will get a quick and complete response. If, however, you have a specific legal question, they are not attorneys and they will tell you to talk to an estate planning lawyer.
How Much Does Will Planning Cost Online?
LegalZoom’s prices are very reasonable when compared to having a lawyer do your will for you. It will save you a lot of time, hassle, and money. They have three levels of will preparation services. For $69, they offer their Standard will package. This includes:
- A comprehensive, customized last will and testament,
- A “Peace of Mind Review” by a LegalZoom documentation specialist*
- Advanced provisions such as credit shelter trusts,
- Free revision for 30 days, and
- Your will printed on archival paper.
For $99, their Gold package adds to the above services:
- Free unlimited revisions for 5 years
For $119, their Vault package adds to all of the above services:
- Secure electronic storage for 5 years,
- Same-day preparation, and
- Express E-mail delivery
*Note that your will is not reviewed by an attorney.
Same-day processing can also be purchased separately with any of their packages for an additional $20. Without same-day processing, your will should be mailed to you within 48 hours and you should receive it in 3-5 business days.
If you are married or in a domestic partnership recognized by your state, LegalZoom offers your spouse or partner the opportunity to create a “mirror will” which more or less mirrors your own will, at a discounted price. Your partner’s will will be customized for him or her.
If you want the peace of mind of expert review or more comprehensive drafting, you should check out attorney reviews. If your situation seems even a little complicated, a 30-minute phone consultation could go a long way to helping you decide which path to take for a sense of security.
How can you create a will online?
Many people use LegalZoom to create a fairly simple will leaving property to immediate family and making custodial arrangements for minor children. Once you log in to have your document created, your work is saved so you can always finish it later. Logging in is free and easy.
You are asked a series of questions including what state you live in, whether you’re married, have children, your family members’ names, your beneficiaries’ names and the guardian for your minor children. Help is offered all along the way. A “Help” icon appears on the screen with many of the questions and clicking on it will give you more information about the subject matter asked about in that question. A toll-free number and an email address are also offered for further assistance.
In general, the questions are straightforward and fairly easy to answer. Someone who has never created a will before, however, might experience some difficulties. Creating a will is not a simple task unless you already have certain information at your fingertips: what you own, names of beneficiaries, a guardian for your minor children, an inventory of your assets, a property guardian for your children’s inheritance, at what age you would like your children to have access to their inheritance, and who will be your executor. It is essential that you gather all of this information and get organized before attempting to answer the questions to make your will, whether you are using LegalZoom, another product or seeing an attorney. Especially when you get into federal estate tax questions, you need to be prepared.
One confusing interview question that comes up is how you would like to distribute your estate. If you are married, LegalZoom only gives you two choices everything to your spouse, or gifts to be distributed among many people with a percentage to each. It can be difficult to customize if you have specific things you want to separate. If you choose “all to your spouse”, there appears to be an opportunity to leave specific gifts to individuals, but that turned out not to be the case. Depending on what choices you make and the state you’re in, your will might stipulate that all property go to your spouse who can then distribute certain items to others.
Some have also noticed an issue with guardianship of minor children. There is only space for one guardian to be named, with first and second alternates in case that guardian cannot or will not serve. So if you have a married couple intended to serve together, it may not read the way you want it to.
Overall, the website is very easy to navigate, and the interview typically takes about an hour. One you submit your will, it will be returned complete within just a few days. Website administrators also send a booklet that gives some guidance on getting your financial affairs in order.
All things considered, LegalZoom is a well-run service and a very good value when you compare it to having an attorney prepare your will. Everyday citizens get access to online forms that make standard legal processes simple. LegalZoom also walks you through filing fees to make sure everything is tied up.
It is a little light on legal explanations, and a little rigid with choices, but it is otherwise easy to use, and the customer service is there for the asking. If your will needs to be revised for any reason, LegalZoom will do for free within 30 days. If you choose to use this program to create a will or other estate planning documents, you should have an attorney look over the finished product before signing just to be certain that it accomplishes your estate goals and complies with the laws of your state.