Are Pre-paid Legal Plans Worth the Cost?
Are you signed up in a pre-paid legal plan and worried your provider is simply tallying up your bill for a service you’ll never get to use? Keep reading as we explain the chances of using pre-paid legal services in legal issues you may be faced with.
In their lifetime, people are most likely to use legal services that fall into four categories: civil defense, civil plaintiffs, criminal defense and legal help that involves a variety of transactional or business laws.
You are already covered for civil defense by your liability insurance. Your insurer hires the lawyer who will defend you and have every push to defend you well since they are the ones who bear your legal costs irrespective of the final outcome. In that concept, you already have “pre-paid legal coverage” in place and a legal plan wouldn’t add much to the coverage.
Civil plaintiff attorneys in the Unites States work on a “no win, no fee” policy. This means that they will not charge you unless they win you damages in an insurance claim or lawsuit against someone who has caused you physical damage. Their contingency fees are calculated as a “commission” on any money won, so there is every incentive for your plaintiff lawyer to defend you and defend you well: the more you win, the more he wins. There is no need to pre-pay for a service where you stand to lose nothing, and where advice is readily available to you from plaintiff lawyers ready to work on your case.
On the unlikely occasion you need to bring criminal charges- like if you’re involved in a serious auto accident- or need to defend yourself against criminal charges brought against you, lining up a lawyer to represent you in advance is not the best of decisions. In these situations, client-lawyer rapport is critical: you need someone whom you can trust, build a relationship with and someone capable enough to defend you in a court of law. You rarely get the chance to talk to your attorney face-to-face in a pre-paid legal plan, and most of the attorneys in the network do not do criminal defense work.
Transactional and business law is the area where you will most probably find pre-paid legal services most effective. If you frequently need someone to draft your wills, review simple contracts and set up advance health-directives or simply want able legal advice at your disposal, then going pre-paid will save you the trouble of searching for an attorney and paying “a la carte”.