The Definitive LegalZoom Review: Everything You Want to Know in 2020
If you walked up to someone 18 years ago and said “I found this lawyer online and now I'm paying them,” that person would have laughed in your face.
The internet was a different and a more primal beast back then. People didn't really trust it. But as trust started to grow in the World Wide Web, people started changing their minds.
Instead of just using AOL messenger or asking Jeeves, we saw people begin to seek services.
And they've never stopped. It's amazing, really, what the internet has turned into in the last 25 years. Who would have thought it would be the best place to find a lawyer?
Well the people at LegalZoom, actually. They founded their company in 1999.
But is this 19-year-old online legal service company really worth putting your faith into? Read our LegalZoom review to find out.
- 1 The Definitive LegalZoom Review: Everything You Want to Know in 2020
- 1.1 LegalZoom Review: The History
- 1.2 LegalZoom's Business Values
- 1.3 What Are the Pros and Cons of LegalZoom?
- 1.3.1 LegalZoom Pros
- 1.3.2 LegalZoom Service Cons
- 1.4 Weighing the Pros and Cons
- 1.5 LegalZoom Will Reviews
- 1.6 What is a living trust?
- 1.7 Can I transfer property into and out of the trust while I'm alive?
- 1.8 Do I still need a will if I have a living trust?
- 1.9 LegalZoom Pricing
- 1.10 Service Specific Reviews
- 1.11 Signing on the Dotted Line
LegalZoom Review: The History
As we said, LegalZoom started in 1999. The founders realized that the internet was a way to make legal help more accessible to everyone.
And that's a noble goal. Too many people never seek out representation because they don't know where to turn. But LegalZoom wasn't always the listing of Attorneys it is today.
They started out with ten products, some of which helped with estate planning and business protection. Then, they expanded to things like intellectual property rights (still controversial).
They worked with and on those ten products for almost ten years. It wasn't until 2010, after the great recession, that they because what we know them as today.
That was when they decided their services needed to be even more accessible. They started allowing Attorneys to list on their website, to be found by clients.
This went well because in 2015 they reached 3.5 million plus customers. That's a lot of people who may not have had access to legal representation just 14 years before.
And, in case you were wondering, LegalZoom actually has an established law firm in the UK. They both talk the talk and walk the walk.
But should you pay them to let you walk your legal walk? People have different opinions on that. But first, let's look at their company values.
You can learn a lot about a company by reading about what they stand for.
LegalZoom's Business Values
First and foremost, LegalZoom wants to expand legal access. That means to all levels of income.
They call this their “We care” value and apparently offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee (to the clients).
Second, they offer a wide range of experts, so that there's always an appropriate attorney for your case. They call this “being knowledgeable“.
Third, they don't try to confuse and scare clients with legal jargon, which was common before people could whip out their phones and look terms up.
Finally, they believe themselves to be reputable, based on their 3.6 million past clientele. That's the only number they give us, so we don't know if those are satisfied customers or just people who clicked through their funnel.
What Are the Pros and Cons of LegalZoom?
We're glad you asked. Like anything, this website and attorney listing service have its ups and downs. We go into them in detail below.
Why should you choose LegalZoom over a competitor? We can't tell you why personally, but here are some pros to get you off to a good start.
1. They're Established
Their first pro is their size and their history. They've been helping people find lawyers or access to legal help since 2001. That's a long track record, especially for something born on the internet.
For proof, think about MySpace. How long did that website last? Maybe five years? Eighteen years is practically eighty in online services time. They must be doing something right to still be in business.
2. They Offer Extra Services
Not only can someone list as/find a lawyer on this site, but they have access to other professionals as well, like tax professionals and a team who will help people do a business evaluation.
If you remember, this was one of the first services they ever offered – so it's eighteen years in the making (just about).
A good business consultant that you can afford is hard to find, especially now that everyone thinks the internet makes them an expert. This is a glowing feature that you won't get with many other service providers.
3. They Have a Guarantee
You know how most stores will do 30-day returns? And websites do, what? A seven-day free trial?
Well, LegalZoom(LZ) will give you three months of money-back service. That means even if you decide the cost isn't worth it on day 59 (or 60, but don't quote that) you can get whatever money you spent back.
With minimal questions asked.
4. They Provide Customer Service
Could you imagine if you were having an issue and you just called up Google? You could call headquarters, technically, but how likely is it that you'd get through?
LZ isn't some random search engine that will chew up your SEO strategy or decide they hate your profile out of nowhere. And even if they did, you have phone-based customer service to fix the problem.
It's not 24/7 customer service – but it's not some dinky during business hours either. You can call from 8 am to 10 pm eastern time during the week.
And they're even there for you on the weekends, from a respectable 10 am to 7 pm eastern. That's more than you'd get from a lot of major companies.
Yes, your business plan comes with one copyright registration (paid for in your membership) per month. Do you want to write a pdf flowchart?
Put a copyright on a stock photo? There's a ton of options for you to cash in on this unique feature.
All of those sound pretty great – but LZ is not perfect as a company or as a service. Let's get into cons next.
LegalZoom Service Cons
Every business in the world has cons, even if they're A+ rated on the BBB – which LZ is. Even on the BBB website itself, they have a review showing only one star out of five.
1. They Have Mixed Reviews
Like we just said, there are mixed customer reviews for the website. Some people think they're awful (1 star) while others rate them about average.
Now, what's difficult about LZ's user base is that most haven't pursued legal help before. Perhaps they don't know what a hassle it can be to jump through legal hoops.
Or maybe they do and they were just underwhelmed. You won't find many reviews other than they “it was okay and I got done what I needed to get done” and “I NEVER WILL USE ANYTHING ELSE EVER AGAIN” on the official LZ site.
But such is the internet. If you want to read those one-star reviews, you won't find them on the LZ website. But you can read the negative ones on their BBB profile.
To be fair to LegalZoom and the BBB, the majority of officially filed complaints get resolved. That means either the BBB reached out to LZ or LZ reached out to the client to address the issue.
That does not mean, however, that the complaining customer will ever use LZ again. It just means they fixed a problem or at least got an answer to their problem.
2. Customer Service
Remember how we talked about the great accessible customer service hours? Well, it's only a pro if you can get someone to answer the phone.
Like the general reviews, people say their customer service employees either go above and beyond or are incompetent. It's the luck of the draw which you'll get.
As this is a call center operation (customer service) there's a lot of turnover. That's probably where the dissatisfaction comes from, new employees vs. seasoned ones. But the con still stands.
3. There Are Hidden Fees
A lot of the one-star reviews from the BBB talk about charges on their card they didn't expect, like some $299 taken out of their account with no explanation.
When approached, the company said something about having to refile the LLC with the State.
But it's not just that. If you buy a basic service and pay for an attorney to review something, it better be short. Documents with more than ten pages are charged a $39 fee.
No one likes budgeting for a certain amount and then having to spend more!
Weighing the Pros and Cons
To figure out if the pros outweigh the cons, you need to know what values you're looking for in a site. For example, if you want consistency in customer reviews, LZ is not the site for you.
But if you want exposure/access to a huge range of people – maybe you're willing to overlook some unhappy customers. We can't make that decision for you.
LegalZoom Will Reviews
Estate planning in general sounds like a daunting process, which is why most push it off until its too late. Thankfully LegalZoom created an intuitive process that makes this far easier than one would believe.
- LegalZoom provides the following estate planning documents and services:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will (Advanced Healthcare Directive)
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Trust
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Pet Protection Agreement
What is a living trust?
A living trust is a legal document that states who you want to control and allocate your assets if you're not able to do so, including the person that manages it when you pass away. Once the trust is signed, you assign ownership of your assets into the new living trust while remaining in total control of your property. The trust property can be managed and distributed without going through the probate court.
Prices for a living trust start at $249.00.
Can I transfer property into and out of the trust while I'm alive?
Yes. If you have an individual trust, you can transfer property whenever you want. If you have a shared trust, you'll need your co-trustees consent if you own the assets together.
Do I still need a will if I have a living trust?
Yes, because you may not have transferred your property into your trust before you pass away. A LegalZoom Living Trust includes a pour-over will. It transfers property still in your name alone when you pass away to the trust to be allocated to your beneficiaries. It also lets you name guardians for your minor children.
Business Advisory Plan
Do you have a business or thinking about starting a business? LegalZoom's affordable and highly convenient Business Advisory Plan helps you with the following:
- Business formation and management
- Contracts and business agreements
- Copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property protections
- Personal legal matters, including property, family law, and estate planning
- Tax advice from our LegalZoom's tax partners at 1-800Accountant to offer you a better understanding of your filing options
Legal Advantage Plus
Lawyers are by no means only needed for business purposes and emergencies. Having sound legal advice at your fingertips to assist in making life's important legal decisions helps make you sleep slightly better at night. LegalZoom offers their Legal Advantage Plus plan for exactly this reason. The Legal Advantage Plus membership includes the following:
- Estate planning, including last will, living trust, financial power of attorney
- Family matters, such as marriage, divorce, and child support
- Finance, including bankruptcy, contracts, legal agreements, and lawsuits
- Employment issues, for example, termination, compensation disputes, and employment agreements
- Tax advice from our LegalZoom's tax partners at 1-800Accountant to offer you a better understanding of your filing options
Additional benefits with your Legal Advantage Plus Prepaid Legal Plan
Okay, with all that swimming around in your head. let's talk about how much using this service costs. You'll be happily surprised.
LegalZoom is one of the most affordable sites of its kind out there, underpricing its competitor Rocket Lawyer by more than $8.
The basic LZ package starts at $31 a month, while Rocket Lawyers pricing starts at $39.95. We know that $4 doesn't sound like that much, but it comes out to about an extra $70 a year.
Plus, that's not all you'll pay for Rocket Lawyer. That's just their lowest priced package. You can opt for their upgraded $50 a month package if you'd like.
Do you get more with Rocket Lawyer?
Some would argue yes, others would say no. It's more about the type of legal business you need help with. Rocket Lawyer has a larger range of services, but LZ is simpler to use.
Again – it's about values.
Though Rocket Lawyer does cost more, they have a leg up in experience. They've helped 20 million clients, which makes LegalZoom's 4 million looks like pocket change.
IncFile is another competitor of LegalZoom that specifically excels in LLC formation. Here is a full IncFile Review to help in your online legal services journey.
Service Specific Reviews
There are a few things LegalZoom does a lot of, like creating wills and general estate planning. We don't know if it's their most popular service, but it's one of their most reviewed.
Customers say that they get all their questions answered when creating estate planning documents on LegalZoom. They like that you can edit the forms for up to a year without paying again and that you can get shipped, finalized, official copies.
Cost wise, you'll pay about $69 to create one basic will package or $150 to work on it/with someone on it for a full year. Compared to real-time lawyers, that's still a massive discount.
Sixty-nine dollars barely covers most personal lawyers retainers or hourly fees! A hundred and fifty dollars a year is a total steal.
Customer live chat and phone support access are included in that cost, were you to need to talk out any questions. They'll even help you find notaries to finalize documents for you.
Signing on the Dotted Line
While actually signing feels more symbolic nowadays, e-signatures still count.
LegalZoom is a business with its own strengths and weaknesses. What you find lacking in LZ, you may still find lacking with another service provider.
Take the points in this guide and weigh them carefully. Don't be afraid to dig deeper into pricing or reviews either. Have any of your friends or colleagues ever worked with LZ?
Those opinions matter most. Do your research (you did at least half by reading this LegalZoom review) and go forward with your best judgment.
That's all you can do!
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