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My experience with pre-paid legal plans started when my husband’s employer offered the benefit at $5 a paycheck. Together with our life insurance policies, I expected never to use our legal services. But I soon came to appreciate the financial advantages that come from joining a pre-paid legal plan, especially one with a low group rate. Here’s what experience taught me.
Real Estate Legal Fees
Two work relocations led my family and me to sell our homes twice. Both times (and when we bought our third home) we used the pre-paid legal plan for our attorney fees, netting a total saving of $1,200. Each time, I advised the escrow company that I was using an attorney from my legal plan. The $400 attorney fee was then deducted from my closing costs, and the plan attorney was paid directly by the pre-paid legal service.
Last Will and Testament
Though many people don’t like to think of drawing their wills, my husband and I decided that doing the responsible thing was important, especially as we had no relatives in the United States. With the help of the legal plan we found an excellent attorney near our home. We communicated by email and phone prior to meeting at his office to sign the wills. The entire process was supremely professional and the cost was fully covered by the pre-paid legal service. I asked the attorney what his cost would be outside the plan and realized that I saved $1,200 that day.
My current legal plan no longer covers speeding tickets, but some legal plans do. If this point is important to you, be sure to look into it when choosing your pre-paid legal service. Most legal plans will offer DUI (driving under the influence) legal services, as well as coverage of criminal traffic violations. In the past, I used my legal plan to help with a few speeding tickets and saved around $600 in attorney fees.
Legal plans will assist you with issues of property disputes or debt collection to prevent matters from escalating and ending up in court. Even if the issue is only partly covered under the plan, the attorney may work at a discount, typically at 25% to 50% his usual rate.
Divorce, Adoption & Other Personal Legal Matters
Pre-paid legal plans cover many personal legal needs from divorce to name change or adoption. In some cases the attorneys will be covered fully by the plan, in others you’ll have a choice between some attorneys that are fully covered and others that are only partially covered. It may seem to make financial sense to choose 100% coverage, but take into account that pre-paid legal plans tend to underpay attorneys. An attorney who feels that he is good enough to secure work with or without the plan’s help may be your best bet after all.
Finally, to find an affordable, reliable attorney, begin by looking for one within the plan. Simply visit the member center or call customer service for information.
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