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Pre-paid legal: Are you really going to use it?

Are you enrolled in a pre-paid legal plan and worried your provider is

simply tallying up your tab for a service you'll never get to use? Read on

as we explain the chances of using pre-paid legal services in legal

challenges you may be faced with.

In their lifetime, people are most likely to use legal services that fall

into four categories: civil defence, civil plaintiffs, criminal defence and

legal help that involves a variety of transactional or business law.

Your liability insurances already covers you for the legal pertaining to

civil defence. Your insurer hires the lawyer who will defend you and have

every incentive to defend your well since they are the ones who bear your

legal costs irrespective of the final outcome. In that respect, 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'

basis. This means that they will not charge you unless they win you damages

in an insurance claim or lawsuit against someone who caused you physical

injury. 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 eager to work on

your case.

On the rare occasion you need to bring criminal charges if you're involved

in a serious accident or 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 crucial: you

need someone whom you trust, build a rapport with and competent 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 defence work.

Transactional and business law is the area where you will most probably

find pre-paid legal services most effective. If you frequently need to

someone to draft your wills, review simple contracts and set up advance

health-directives or simply want competent legal advice at your disposal,

then going pre-paid will save you the trouble of searching for an attorney

and paying 'a la carte'.

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