Legal Zoom has been in business since 1999, and was set up to make legal help more widely available and affordable for Americans. By 2001, the company had ten products, including its estate planning software, and it has continued expanding rapidly up to the present day, and now boasts some four million customers worldwide.
Legal Zoom works with a network of independent attorneys who help create their directory of documents, and is undoubtedly one of the best online will makers you can find. The company has dedicated packages for customers looking to prepare a will, and offers three levels of support, from basic preparation through to an estate plan bundle that includes a year of legal advice. The company also offers one of the best estate planning apps.
How much does Legal Zoom cost?
- Basic package at $89
- Comprehensive at $99
- Estate Plan Bundle at $179
Legal Zoom is one of the more expensive options when it comes to will-preparation and estate planning, particularly when compared with Law Depot, for example. But at the same time it does offer superior customer support and is easy to use, plus the various tiers give customers some flexibility on how much they want to spend. The Comprehensive and Estate Planning options include thirty-minute attorney consultations, attorney reviews of the prepared will, and the estate-planning app.
Legal Zoom also offers standalone services, such as Power of Attorney (from $35), Living Will (from $39) and Living Trust (from $279).
Legal Zoom review: Products
The Basic package retails at $89, and comes with the essentials to create a will, including a helpful number of instructional guides that explain the relevant provisions and statements, and also come with worksheets to help the process along.
The Comprehensive Plan at $99 comes with everything from the Basic package, plus a 14-day trial of Legal Zoom’s service Attorney Advice. This is an offer of free telephone consultations with a participating firm, during normal business hours, of up to 30 minutes each, limited to one consultation for each new legal matter.
The Estate Plan Bundle retails at $179 and has everything from these packages, as well as a year of Attorney Advice and the inclusion of documents relating to Financial Power of Attorney, Living Will and one year of free revisions – the other plans offer revisions to the digital and printed versions of the will for up to 30 days before printing.
All of the Legal Zoom products are cloud-based software solutions and all of them are protected by the company’s $50,000 guarantee, which says that if there are any mistakes caused by their software that might make a will invalid, they will pay said amount to the estate.
Legal Zoom review: Document creation
Legal Zoom has one of the most straightforward document-creation processes on the market. The entire creation process takes place in the cloud, so there’s no software to install, with users being led through the process via a very clear succession of questions. It's probably not quite on a par with Quicken WillMaker & Trust for simplicity and support, but it's not far off.
Legal Zoom review: Service
The Comprehensive package and the Estate Plan Bundle come with various levels of Attorney Advice – essentially free half-hour consultations with an attorney in the Legal Zoom network (14 days for the former, a year for the latter).
Legal Zoom also has a free online resource centre that is available to anyone. Within it, there are plenty of articles that help explain the basics of will preparation and all of the legal issues that surround the process, including most areas of estate-planning.
Legal Zoom review: Usability
Legal Zoom is one of the most user-friendly options out there for people looking to create their own last wills and testaments. Legal Zoom’s software is stored in the cloud, and so users can access their account from any device with an internet connection, and there’s no software to install on their own computers. Customers with the Comprehensive plan and the Estate Plan Bundle also get a free app for their phones. As with most examples of will-preparation software, users are led through the process via a series of questions in the style of an interview. With Legal Zoom, answers are supplied via a selection of drop-down menus, checklists, as well as text fields that allow for more information to be provided if necessary. This gives Legal Zoom an impressive level of flexibility, something that is lacking in some of their competitors.
Legal Zoom walks users through the process and even complete beginners will find it easy to use, especially with the support of their glossary of legal terms. Legal Zoom does not have a checklist of materials that you might need before you start the process, but it does provide worksheets that can be cross-referenced as the user progresses.
Once the process is complete, there’s a chance (even with the basic version) to check and amend the digital version before printing the final document and making it legally binding. Changes to the physical version are possible with the Comprehensive edition and the Estate Plan Bundle. Depending on the plan, users can then create supporting documents for care-givers, survivors, etc. Telephone and email support is available, and as stated, the Comprehensive and Estate Plan editions include half-hour consultations with attorneys. Legal Zoom have been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2001, and currently boast an excellent ‘A+’ rating.
Should you choose Legal Zoom?
While Legal Zoom might not be the cheapest solution for will-preparation on the market, it has much to recommend it. The three pricing options mean customers get some choice and flexibility depending on their needs. It’s also one of the easiest and most straightforward software solutions that we have reviewed, and the flexibility within the program (stored in the cloud for access anywhere) is impressive. The customer support is relatively good, and the attorney sessions included with the two more expensive options are a welcome addition to the basic program.