Overview: LegalZoom Reviews| News Report on LegalZoom (Pros, Complaints, Competitors)
Welcome to the future. Instead of needing to invest money and energy into hiring a lawyer that you have to visit in person, websites like legalzoom.com can assist you with your legal needs from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
LegalZoom advertisements tout its low prices and accessibility, appealing to the average Joe dealing with common legal issues.
Image source: LegalZoom
But how legitimate are the services that LegalZoom offers? We’ve scoured the Internet for LegalZoom reviews that touch on some of the LegalZoom complaints that customers have had as well as analyzing some of the LegalZoom competitors to see how they stack up.
Since its launch in 2001, LegalZoom has disrupted the formerly monopolistic industry of law that, according to LegalZoom, overcharges customers for the creation of legal documents or starting a business.
By 2015, LegalZoom had acquired 3.6 million customers.
However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses in the company’s short history. In a LegalZoom review, Forbes magazine touched on the difficulties the company has faced, such as state letters “condemning LegalZoom for practicing law without a license.”
Services Offered by LegalZoom
LegalZoom offers many of the simplified services usually provided to consumers by general practitioners.
However, as one writer criticizes in a LegalZoom review, the cut-and-paste, fill-in-the-blank format of the company’s services denies customers the localized and individual understanding that a general practitioner might provide. Nonetheless, some of the areas that LegalZoom can offer support through might still be adequately covered by its services alone.
One of the areas that LegalZoom addresses is business formation. Due to the many details to keep in mind and get in line, starting a business alone is tricky. It is important to have a helping hand on the legal side of things to make sure you get your company started on the right track.
There are many different types of businesses that LegalZoom claims it can help you form, including:
- Limited liability company (LLC)
- Corporation (Inc.)
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited partnership (LP)
- Limited liability partnership (LLP)
The most frequently used service in this area is the formation of an LLC. When studying various LegalZoom LLC reviews, it is apparent that the services aren’t always provided as quickly and economically as advertised.
One such review from a man dealing with inadequate customer service from LegalZoom explained how he did not receive the expedited formation of an LLC, including obtaining an Employment Identification Number (EIN), despite paying the premium rate to LegalZoom.
Another area that LegalZoom provides legal service for includes estate planning. Resolving the personal details of estate planning can help you feel at ease in regard to the well-being of your loved ones. Legal issues that would fall under this category include:
- Last will and testament
- Living will (advance health care directive)
- Health care power of attorney
- Living trust
- Financial power of attorney
- Pet protection agreement
If you’re looking for help with your will and seek the services of LegalZoom, it’s important to be aware of the possible downsides.
According to different LegalZoom will reviews, unless your will is simple, such as leaving your entire estate to a spouse, there could be costly mistakes caused by the imprecise language on the form which LegalZoom uses.
Since the website lacks in providing adequate legal explanations, according to a LegalZoom complaint from a customer who tried to make a will, your end product could possibly not completely express your intentions for some of your property or guardianship.
LegalZoom partners with the online platform Wevorce to provide divorce services. However, first of all, it’s important to note that LegalZoom may offer legal advice regarding an adversarial divorce, but it will only help to create the forms for an uncontested divorce.
When we examined various LegalZoom divorce reviews, we found mixed responses from customers. Some people noted that the fill-in forms provided by LegalZoom can sometimes be found for free at a local courthouse.
When the divorce was uncontested, the general guidelines provided by LegalZoom could be stress-relieving in their simplicity and accessibility. Contrarily, when the divorce was adversarial, the consultation services were inadequate in solving issues which ended up having to be solved in court instead.
During such an emotionally-trying time such as a divorce, the peace of mind of having an in-person lawyer from the get-go may be worth the possible extra financial cost.
LegalZoom is also able to help you with issues regarding intellectual property. These include:
This area seems to be one that receives little criticism from different customers’ LegalZoom reviews. However, many law professionals advise against this route for establishing your intellectual property.
Image source: SME Joinup
One LegalZoom review found a costly error in the mass production quality of LegalZoom’s trademark applications. Trademark attorney Morris Turek discovered that LegalZoom had promised a potential client a successful trademark without realizing that said trademark contained a word which, under the Lanham Act, would be rejected by the Trademark Office.
In his LegalZoom review, Raad Ahmed, founder of LawTrades, suggests proceeding with caution as using an online service to deal with complex transactions, like intellectual property, could create small mistakes that would result in big consequences.
For this reason, having legal counsel could be more helpful for those considering LegalZoom or companies like LegalZoom for their businesses.
Business Legal Plan
The most common service that businesses invest in is the business legal plan offered by LegalZoom. The Business Advantage Pro plan provides consumers with unlimited thirty-minute consultations on new businesses and personal legal matters for one low monthly rate. These consultations must be on a unique legal issue and may not exceed a time limit of thirty minutes.
How It Works
When signing up for a LegalZoom account, you can pick either a Personal Legal Plan or a Business Legal Plan. These last for a duration of either six months or a year. After signing up for a plan, you can schedule a consultation with an attorney you select from LegalZoom’s network of attorneys.
Then, you will be able to discuss your legal matter at a scheduled time over the phone. LegalZoom.com reviews usually received positive feedback regarding the platform’s ease of use in signing up for a plan.
While this sounds great, there are some problems that arise with the process, according to various LegalZoom reviews. As one LLC package customer complained, since each call can only be up to thirty minutes, you may end up getting passed around to various operators.
Customers with LegalZoom complaints did not like this method of service as you usually don’t hear from the same person twice. When customers pay good money for a service, they don’t expect to get passed from person to person, wasting time being on the line for hours. This type of experience also indicates a lack of organization from the company.
Some of the hidden or superfluous fees manifest themselves in auto-charges to your credit card, as one person who wanted to get power of attorney for their father found out. Furthermore, each “consultation” that you are allowed must be a unique legal matter, so if a problem isn’t solved right away, then you won’t receive the adequate legal support you need.
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Further Complaints and Concerns
Some of the major concerns that appear in LegalZoom reviews revolve around the legitimacy of LegalZoom as a consultation service for legal matters. Since LegalZoom is not a law firm, it cannot review your answers for legal sufficiency, provide completely accurate legal advice or apply the law to your specific situation.
Furthermore, while LegalZoom markets itself as a more affordable way to receive legal services, in actuality, some LegalZoom complaints have pointed out that this isn’t entirely the case. Rather, LegalZoom quotes a low price to customers and then “nickel-and-dimes customers for each additional service or document to the point that their fees are actually as high as reasonably priced reputable attorneys.”
ConsumerReports.org reported in a Rocket Lawyer, Nolo, and LegalZoom review that “using any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training… but unless your needs are simple—say, you want to leave your entire estate to your spouse—none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs. And in some cases, the other documents aren’t specific enough or contain language that could lead to an unintended result.”
If you’ve signed up for a Legal Plan from LegalZoom and wish to cancel, be prepared to spend a lot of time and energy during the process. Multiple LegalZoom complaints chronicle the difficulties consumers had with canceling subscriptions as well as the negative customer service that surrounded the procedure.
Over the past fifteen years, many companies offering similar services as LegalZoom have emerged. Some of the advantages of these companies are advertised as similar to LegalZoom’s: fast legal services, cheaper costs, and an alliance of reputable legal partners.
However, the downfalls of these companies are similar to those that customers may encounter in dealings with LegalZoom. Due to this, the biggest competitor to LegalZoom and other companies like LegalZoom that offer legal services online is still the traditional law establishment.
In some cases, newer is better. However, in terms of solving legal issues, many customers still feel safer with a professional who has years of training, experience, and the ability to personalize the legal services that he/she offers.
With these LegalZoom reviews in mind, customers should consider carefully whether or not they wish to take the risk of signing up for one of LegalZoom’s Personal or Business Legal Plans.
Though the shiny marketing techniques and misleading advertising for LegalZoom may seem appealing, this is one case where the future might not be as bright as it appears.
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