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The Perils of Using LegalZoom for Important Legal Issues


Photo courtesy of Ken Mayer via Flickr

Let me add my voice to the chorus of attorneys telling you that using LegalZoom, or any other online platforms for legal services, is a bad idea. Coming from a lawyer, I know that sounds a little self-serving, right? But don’t just take my word for it… take LegalZoom’s.

The potential problems inherent in using such a service are pretty clearly spelled out in LegalZoom’s own Terms of Use. Imagine, for example, if you approached me about doing your will or estate and I told you that the work we do at Nexus Legal Solutions is “not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney.” You would run in the opposite direction and I wouldn’t blame you!

Yet that’s exactly what LegalZoom states in their own Terms of Use on their website.

It’s not like LegalZoom is intentionally trying to provide a service that doesn’t work. The problem is that what they are trying to do – automate legal services with absolutely no contact with an attorney – is impossible. Even for what you might consider the most basic of legal needs, everybody has unique circumstances that a cookie-cutter legal template simply can’t address.

All you get when you use this type of online legal service is a template you fill in with your name and a few pieces of information. To be clear, many attorneys use templates as a starting point. These templates are useful in the right hands because they contain a lot of information and language designed to anticipate as many generic scenarios as possible.

With LegalZoom, however, that’s where the process stops. You just sign the forms and you’re practically done. An attorney, on the other hand, will spend time with you to understand what your goals are for this legal instrument. When I start with a template, I see it as a “menu” of items, some of which I’ll keep because they’re relevant to the client’s goals, and some of which I’ll delete. Then, it’s my job to add language customized to the client’s legal needs, making sure that it is thorough and accurate, and most important, will hold up in court if challenged.

Staying current with a changing legal landscape

Another issue that many LegalZoom customers encounter is that the service doesn’t always keep up with changes to the law, which happens from time to time. Again, here’s what it states in their Terms of Use: “LegalZoom strives to keep its legal documents accurate, current and up-to-date. However, because the law changes rapidly, LegalZoom cannot guarantee that all of the information on the Site or Applications is completely current.

As an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Florida, I am required to complete continuing education classes in order to keep my license active. That means, not only am I aware of any changes to the laws that are relevant to my practice, I am accountable for making sure I follow them on my clients’ behalf.

Covering all of my clients’ legal needs

That’s really the value I provide to my clients when I’m working on their will or trust. In addition to having a thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the law, I also have a lot of experience in the estate planning field. So, no matter how unique you think your circumstances may be, I’ve probably seen it and figured out an effective solution for it.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have used one of the low-cost online legal services to execute a will or create a trust, then spend many years feeling secure that their loved ones will be protected when they pass away. Sadly, the flaws aren’t discovered until the document doesn’t provide that protection as expected. And by then, it’s too late to fix th

e problems and your family is stuck in court dealing with probate.

If you have used LegalZoom and have questions or concerns about whether you're fully protected, or would simply like to talk to a qualified estate planning attorney about how to protect your family in general, contact Nexus Legal Solutions at 407-900-7722 for a consultation.

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NEXUS LEGAL SOLUTIONS

An Estate Planning and Probate Law Firm

407.900.7722

4151 Hunters Park Lane, Suite 100

Orlando, FL 32837

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