LegalZoom Estate Planning Review
LegalZoom is one of the largest and most trusted providers of online legal services. The bulk of LegalZoom’s services is centered on document creation, enabling users to produce binding legal documents without adding the expense of a personal lawyer. Within document creation, LegalZoom offers the increasingly popular Estate Planning Bundle.
In this review, we will discuss LegalZoom’s estate planning services, the pros and cons, and how LegalZoom stacks up against the competition to help you decide if LegalZoom is right for your estate planning needs.
Pros About LegalZoom
- Easy online legal document creation
- Simple interface
- Helpful tutorials for beginners
- Transparent pricing
- Multiple estate planning documents to choose from
- High-quality customer service
Cons About LegalZoom
- There is persistent upselling.
- It’s not the cheapest legal document creator on the market.
- Registered agent services can get expensive.
- Both standard and expedited services can be slow.
LegalZoom entered the market in 2001 to help make legal advice and services more accessible. In the past, you would need to find and hire a lawyer just to create relatively simple legal documents. Now, thanks to companies like LegalZoom, consumers can access affordable document creation, estate planning, and basic legal planning services online.
Did You Know? LegalZoom sold over 1.3 million subscription products and services in 2021 alone.1
In addition to document creation, LegalZoom offers personalized legal advice from licensed attorneys. These independent lawyers provide online consultations, allowing you to get valuable legal advice from the comfort of your own home. More recently, LegalZoom enhanced its benefits for small businesses, adding tax and accounting solutions to its suite of products and services.
As previously mentioned, estate planning is one of LegalZoom’s most popular products. Here is a more comprehensive breakdown of everything you can expect from LegalZoom’s “a la carte” estate planning products, along with the Estate Planning Bundle.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament allows you to dictate exactly how you want your properties and assets to be distributed after your death. With LegalZoom, you can create a last will and testament in as little as 15 minutes. LegalZoom offers two options for this product: Basic Last Will ($89) and Comprehensive Last Will ($99).
The Basic Last Will package enables you to create a personalized will for your state of choice. This includes a step-by-step guide for creating your will and a 30-day grace period starting on the day of your purchase. During this time, you can make as many revisions as you like at no extra charge. The Comprehensive Last Will offers everything from the Basic Last Will package, plus two weeks of personalized legal advice related to your will.
A living will, also known as an advance healthcare directive, dictates what actions should be taken in the event that your health prevents you from making your own healthcare decisions. For example, if you become incapacitated after a car accident and require life support, a living will ensures that your doctors know whether you want to remain on life support, and if so, for how long.
FYI: If you opt for any of LegalZoom’s packages with expert legal advice, you will automatically be charged to continue the service unless you unsubscribe before the end of the period outlined in your plan.
LegalZoom offers two living will packages: Basic Living Will ($39) and Comprehensive Living Will ($49). The Basic Living Will package allows you to create a document that meets the requirements of your state and make revisions up to 30 days after the date of purchase. The Comprehensive Living Will includes everything in the Basic Living Will package, plus two weeks of personalized legal advice from a licensed attorney.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A healthcare power of attorney is similar to a living will, with one important difference. Rather than specifying what medical actions should be taken if you are incapacitated, a healthcare power of attorney gives the decision-making power to a designated individual. In essence, this document allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
LegalZoom offers healthcare power of attorney solutions starting at $39. Unlike most of its other legal document services, LegalZoom offers only one package for a healthcare power of attorney document. However, you can get additional services related to this document if you opt for the Estate Planning Bundle (more on that later).
A living trust allows you to benefit from a trust now and plan how your trust will be managed for its future beneficiaries once you’re gone. It is one of the best ways to keep your trust out of a probate court and fast-track payouts to family members or other beneficiaries. If you make your Living Trust with LegalZoom, you have two options: Basic Living Trust ($279) and Comprehensive Living Trust ($299). These packages provide the same general benefits as other document creation packages, with the Comprehensive Living Trust offering two weeks of legal advice on top of the basic document creation and revision benefits.
Financial Power of Attorney
Like a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney document hands decision-making powers over to a third party. You can choose whom you want to make important financial decisions on your behalf if your health prevents you from making these decisions on your own. Again, LegalZoom offers two solutions: Basic Power of Attorney ($35) and Comprehensive Power of Attorney ($45). The former enables you to create and revise a financial power of attorney that conforms to the relevant laws in your state, while the latter allows you to do the same with up to two weeks of personalized legal advice.
Estate Planning Bundle
LegalZoom’s Estate Planning Bundle is its featured product that can help you save money if you want more than one of the company’s estate planning services. The types of documents and services you get will depend on the bundle you choose. You can create a Last Will Estate Plan for one person ($249) or for two people ($349). Alternatively, you can create a Living Trust Estate Plan for one person ($399) or for two people ($449).
Money-Saving Tip: If you want to create multiple estate planning documents, you can typically save money by choosing LegalZoom’s Estate Planning Bundle.
With the Last Will Estate Plan, you can make a last will and testament, financial power of attorney, and living will (one per person on your plan). Each of these documents can be revised up to one year from the purchase date of the bundle. Plus, you can get legal advice related to your estate plan for one year.
The Living Trust Estate Plan package is essentially the same, but instead of a last will and testament, you can create a living trust. Since a living trust takes legal precedence over a will and can be edited over your lifetime, it is not necessary to have both. This means you can choose a plan that best suits the requirements of your estate and still get all of the essential documents you need. If you need more than one estate planning document, we recommend the bundle, as it offers the best value.
To better understand the costs of using LegalZoom, here are all of the prices for each estate planning service:
|Service||Basic plan price for one person||Comprehensive plan price for two people|
|Last Will and Testament||$89||$99|
|Healthcare Power of Attorney||$39||N/A|
|Financial Power of Attorney||$35||$45|
|Last Will Estate Plan||$249 (one person)||$349 (two people)|
|Living Trust Estate Plan||$399 (one person)||$449 (two people)|
LegalZoom offers various customer support options based on the kinds of services you use and the help you require. Regardless of your plan type, you can contact customer support via the online chat tool, phone, or email. You can also write to the address provided in the Help menu (if you are already a member of LegalZoom). The LegalZoom support staff is often praised for its attentive care with the large base of customers.
How to Create LegalZoom Estate Planning Documents
Creating LegalZoom documents is relatively straightforward. Though the exact information you need to provide varies with each type of document, the process remains uniform for most documents. Let’s say you want to create a last will and testament for yourself. First, you will need to create a LegalZoom account and sign in. For this part, you will just need to provide some basic identification and contact information.
From here, you can choose to start a new will. This is where you will need to enter your name, the names of your heirs, and your wishes. More specifically, you will need to answer questions in the following categories:
- Family (beneficiaries in your will)
- Gifts (assets to be distributed)
- Representatives (personal representative, executor, or administrator of the estate)
- Special considerations (additional wishes you want to include)
Lastly, you will purchase and finalize your plan. Keep in mind that you will still have 30 days to revise your will if needed (or up to one year with the Estate Planning Bundle). While this sounds like a great benefit, it is also indicative of how slow processes can be with LegalZoom. It could take anywhere from a week to over a month to generate relatively standard documents.
Again, the exact steps you will follow vary based on the type of document(s) and the plan you choose. However, LegalZoom provides you with step-by-step guidance to make sure that everything meets the standards required by law in your state.
Comparing LegalZoom to the Competition
LegalZoom is not the only provider of online legal solutions. Some of the company’s top competitors include Rocket Lawyer and Incfile. It is important to note that, while there are plenty of other online legal companies out there, many of them specialize in business formation. There are far fewer companies that have a wide range of products and services for individuals, particularly when it comes to estate planning.
When it comes to the sheer breadth of services, few companies can compete with LegalZoom. Once you sign up for LegalZoom, you can form an LLC, get tax and accounting advice, and plan your estate (just to name a few services). However, LegalZoom is not the cheapest option. If you’re willing to do most of the paperwork on your own, you can have someone at Incfile review your documents and file them free of charge. Alternatively, Rocket Lawyer offers similar services to LegalZoom at lower flat rates.
Many users also complain about the upselling and wait times on LegalZoom. Even if you just want to create a living will, you will likely be offered several options to pay more for services that you may or may not need. You might have to wait several weeks just to get the documents you’ve purchased. These issues are commonplace among legal service companies, but LegalZoom gets much of the criticism because it is one of the largest providers.
Fortunately, LegalZoom stands above most competitors when it comes to customer service. In the past, LegalZoom did not have as many dedicated agents to help with customer inquiries. The company has since increased the size of its support staff and become one of the best in the industry for high-quality customer care.
Final Thoughts on LegalZoom
LegalZoom is one of the simplest and most accessible providers of legal products and services. Rather than potentially spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer, you can manage many common legal processes and create legal documents online with LegalZoom. To help give you peace of mind, the company allows you to pay a little more for legal advice from licensed attorneys. Before you get started with LegalZoom, keep in mind that there are cheaper alternatives out there. That said, if you’re willing to pay a bit more for simplicity and quality document creation, LegalZoom is a great solution.
Frequently Asked Questions About LegalZoom
Is LegalZoom worth using?
LegalZoom has a sterling reputation as a reliable legal services provider. Though there are cheaper options available, LegalZoom is a trusted source of legal documents and products, making it a great choice if you want everything done right the first time.
How reliable is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is very reliable because it continually updates its services to ensure compliance with state and federal laws. LegalZoom enlists the help of thousands of licensed attorneys and legal professionals to provide customers with personalized consultations.
Can you get a refund from LegalZoom?
If you are not happy with LegalZoom’s services, you may qualify for a refund within 60 days of purchase. Certain exceptions apply per LegalZoom’s refund policy.
Are LegalZoom wills valid in every state?
Yes, LegalZoom wills are valid in every state. It is vital that you fill out the information correctly to have your will processed in your state. You can trust LegalZoom to use the latest legal requirements when creating your last will and testament.
LegalZoom Press Release. (2022). LegalZoom Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2021 Results.