Prepaid Legal Services

Prepaid Legal Services

You should always expect the unexpected. You never know when you may need a lawyer to assist you. It may be something as common as a car accident, or may be as complicated as a discrimination lawsuit. Whatever the incident, you may not know who to turn to, where to get accurate information, or how to get help without spending too much. That’s why an entire industry has evolved to cater to your needs called prepaid legal services.

A variety of companies offer prepaid legal services. You may even have the opportunity to purchase them from your place of employment or credit card company. The goal is simple: to provide legal help and save the customer money. Companies do this by offering package deals. They argue that if you pay them $100 up front for a set amount of legal services, it will be cheaper for you in the long run. Once you sign up for the company’s services, the amount of money you pay will be a yearly fee.

This article should not to be confused with the company, called LegalShield and formally known as Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. Members can call their toll-free number for information about legal advice, consultations, identity theft monitoring, and legal defense services. There have been accusations against that company claiming that it was a pyramid scheme and that it over-marketed the range of legal services it offered. This article discusses the general information about the industry at large, and not this company in particular.

Advantages

Many companies offer prepaid legal services. One such organization is the American Bar Association. Their website on the Standing Committee on Group and Prepaid Legal Services explains the advantages to their program. They state that they are able to match clients and attorneys based on the type of lawsuit or legal assistance needed.

The types of services offered are generally those that are most common, like drafting a will, reviewing a legal document like a rental or mortgage agreement, and short phone calls to answer some questions. If you need a service that is not available in the prepaid plan, then the lawyer will charge their regular rate.

Though not necessarily prepaid legal help, there are other low-cost options available. If you are in a low-income household, there are federally funded programs that you may have access to. Keep in mind that you have to have an income level below a certain annual wage to take part in these services. If you qualify, you may contact lawyers or paralegals working for participating legal offices. You can get advice on how to proceed in a divorce case, get help with an unemployment benefits lawsuit, learn how to address issues with your landlord, etc.  Additionally, there are pro bono programs which provide legal help at no cost to you. This is usually offered through your state’s bar association. Local charities or telephone hotlines may also have volunteer attorneys on hand to assist you.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, there may be some disadvantages associated with prepaid legal services. Sometimes, the programs will promote themselves as a viable alternative, when there are actually limitations to what they can provide.  Additionally, it may be cheaper to simply pay a lawyer when you need to use one, rather than enrolling in a program.

Consider the following scenario. You are in the process of filing for a divorce, but you don’t know the steps you’ll need to take or the how to complete the necessary paperwork. So, you enroll in a prepaid legal services program through your employer. The program promotes itself as a low-cost option, and only charges you $100 per year. However, what you didn’t know is that $100 will only cover the cost of three phone calls with an attorney. Suddenly, you need to spend more money to get additional help. Instead of buying into a prepaid program, you could simply call a local lawyer’s office and discuss your financial situation. Ask them if their rates are negotiable—usually they are. Often, the rate you agree upon is cheaper that the rate in the prepaid service.

When You Need Help

If you find yourself in legal trouble, or in need of advice, remember to document everything. Write down a timetable of the events that have occurred since the incident. Keep track of any information you have about the other party, bills you may have already incurred, phone conversations, and letters received. You need to know these details in order to have a strong case.

When you speak with a prepaid or low-cost attorney, have a set of questions before your first conversation. You will want to ask questions about your legal difficulties as well as what to expect from the legal services available to you.

Wills

Few things are as intimate as a person’s last will and testament. Attorneys can help make this document a strong roadmap for your last wishes.

Learn more about Wills ›

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

A basic rule of starting a business partnership is that you have in writing how that partnership will be dissolved, if needed. Marriages shouldn’t be viewed any differently. A pre-nuptial agreement can be a very positive document with proper help from an attorney.

Learn more about Prenuptial Agreements ›

ElderCare

Eldercare law is a fast growing part of the legal world. Since the average person will soon live into his 90s there is much more to be concerned about. Simple handshake agreements often are challenged by heirs and are much better reduced to writing with the help of sound legal advice.

Learn more about Elder Care Legal Services ›

Personal Bankruptcy

Recent changes in laws regarding personal bankruptcy have made this a challenging area of the law. The penalties are stiff for those who take personal bankruptcy lightly.

Other Enhanced Insurance articles related to Pre-Paid Legal Insurance:

Identity Theft Insurance

Clearing Up Misconceptions about Wills

Electronic Signature Validity

Pre-Nuptial Agreements – Start Up Turn-Off

Personal Bankruptcy

Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.

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