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Pre-Paid Legal Plans

Written by Nickel - 8 Comments

I learned today that I’m eligible for a pre-paid legal plan through my employer. The plan, which is offered through ARAG Group (never heard of ‘em), runs $13.95, and I think that I have to sign up for 12 months in order to get in on the deal (I still have to check on this). Here’s a rundown of what they cover…

In-Office Legal Services

Family Legal Issues

* Adoption, Guardianship, Conservatorship & Name Changes
* Standard Wills, Living Wills & Powers of Attorney, Tenant Rental Issues

Consumer Protection

* Consumer Debt Collection
* Unlimited access to an interactive financial planning Web site that includes calculators, a library of content, planning resources and more
* Online financial information record keeper and financial modeling tools

IRS Issues

* Audit and collection defense

Financial and Tax Planning Services

The Financial Planning Center

* Unlimited toll-free confidential telephone access to an experienced and objective financial planner for advice and personal planning reports
* Unlimited access to an interactive financial planning Web site that includes calculators, a library of content, planning resources and more
* Online financial information record keeper and financial modeling tools

Telephone Services

* Unlimited advice and representation about personal legal matters

Identity Theft Services

* Unlimited toll-free assistance from an identity theft case manager.

Immigration Services

* Unlimited toll-free assistance from immigration case managers and Network

Online Legal Services

* Law Guide & Do-It-Yourself Legal Documents

Just getting our wills done would probably justify the cost, even if we had to enroll for a full year. After all, a year would run $167.40, whereas the cheapest we’ve found for a professionally prepared will is $100 each for my wife and myself. That being said, I’ve never heard of the ARAG Group, so it’s unclear to me whether or not we’d actually be getting good advice. And bad legal advice (no matter how little it costs) is almost certainly worse than no legal advice at all.

Have any of you used a pre-paid legal plan (regardless of vendor)? What did you use it for, and how did you like it? Any thoughts on the ARAG Group in particular?

Published on August 11th, 2006 - 8 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

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8 Responses to “Pre-Paid Legal Plans”

  1. 1
    Beck Says:

    I tend to think stuff like this is bologna. It reminds me of Best Buy service plans… company X plays off the fear of the unexpected to get you to spend $$$. Is it justifiable? Maybe. Is it necessary? IMO, probably not.

    I don’t think, considering the importance of a will (though with your boys, I would totally have a trust), that $200 is too much to ask to have one made from a firm you trust.

  2. 2
    nickel Says:

    I agree on $200 not being too much to ask. Actually, my concern was that it was too little, especially considering that it was going to include a testamentary trust.

    I wouldn’t be using this as insurance, but rather as a tool to get a bunch of legal work done for a fixed fee, and then drop the plan. I typically only insure that which I cannot afford, and legal fees of this sort don’t fall into that category.

  3. 3
    Jerry Says:

    Barron’s ran a story on Pre-Paid Legal Services (the big dog in the industry) back in April. They (and their competitors) are facing criticism and scrutiny. Here’s a snippet:

    “Pre-Paid Legal Services (ticker: PPD) has come under attack for offering less comprehensive coverage than its salespeople may advertise. Indeed, limitations abound on coverage for criminal and domestic matters, though a Pre-Paid attorney might be able to help you beat a traffic ticket.”

    If you want to read the whole thing, you’ve got to be a subscriber. Here’s a link:

    http://tinyurl.com/oqlsw

  4. 4
    Scott Says:

    I figure the will is almost like a one-time gift. The first year you break even because you get the will included, but the second year you don’t need a will so they make their money.

  5. 5
    nickel Says:

    Right, but you can drop it after the first year.

  6. 6
    Ryan Says:

    I have ARAG through work (this is my first year as a subscriber), and it’s actually a little different than a pre-paid legal service. It’s more like the legal equivalent of Health Insurance: I pay them my premium, and then I can use any lawyer in their network, the services on the list are covered 100%, and ARAG foots the bill. I’d agree that it’s great the first year and then debatable after that, but you can always cancel after the first year.

    For us, we were able to choose a lawyer near my work (making sure they accepted ARAG), and then we visited him to set up a basic trust and wills for both my wife and I. I paid nothing extra, since these are covered services, and the lawyer billed ARAG for the services. Since we sold our house this year, we could also have had a lawyer reviewing our contract or be present at the signing to review the paperwork with us (another 100% covered service under our plan), though we chose not to do this.

    The premiums were close to $200 this year, but we’ve easily had $500 worth of legal services, so it’s worked out well. It’s nice to always have a lawyer available, so I’m not sure if we’ll keep it, but it was definitely worth it to get our estate planning done.

  7. 7
    joe Says:

    I”ve had ARAG for years . All I can hope for is a better plan. Some people say it coats about $12 but I been paying $14.95 for a single plan.

  8. 8
    Heather Says:

    Don’t bother. Lousy service. I did speak with two in-network attorneys while I was an active member. They eventually responded to my question, but it felt like a lot of hoops to jump through for a 5 minute conversation. I definitely felt that I was not a valuable client to the attorney as well as the service.

    Second, ARAG let me account lapse without notifying me. They say they sent a letter, but it was to an invalid address. When I finally realized and called them it was several months later, they were completely unhelpful, took zero responsibility for the error and offered me a higher cost plan.

    No thank you. Better to establish a real relationship with a quality, helpful local attorney and use their time strategically.

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