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Free Workshop on Leave of Absences in California

If you are in the Sacramento area, you won’t want to miss this free workshop on Leave of Absences in California! 

For more information: http://eepurl.com/L9k7T

LegalZoom or a Real Attorney?

ImageOur first guest blogger of 2014 is Attorney Justin Gilbert.
Justin provides personalized legal services in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, trust litigation, elder law and business planning, and can be contacted at (916) 932-7416. For more information, visit The Law Offices of Justin M. Gilbert at http://justinmgilbert.com/

LegalZoom has been getting a lot of buzz since its inception for its low-cost legal templates. For small business owners and individuals on a budget, LegalZoom can seem like a great way to save money on legal needs.

However, keep the old adage in mind – you get what you pay for.

LegalZoom has a very attractive interface and fluid navigation, but a website can never take the place of an actual attorney. Its templates are just that – templates that provide broad and generic coverage. A template will not be able to understand your specific needs, answer your questions, provide recommendations based on your unique legal situation, foresee litigation entanglements, or keep up on the most current case laws. (Who knows when the LegalZoom forms were last modified.)

Think about it this way. Let’s say that you need a bicycle to get across town. At LegalZoom, you pay a low fee and are issued a standard road bike that’s been fitted for the average body shape. As you start on your journey, you realize the pedals are too short for your long legs and the bike’s thin road tires are not made for the rock trail you need to cross. Additionally, the gears are complicated and you don’t know how to use them.

Now let’s say that you stop into a bike specialty shop instead. At the specialty shop, you pay a little more for the bike, but the store owner listens to your needs. You tell him that your path includes both roads and some rocky trails, so he recommends a hybrid bike with a frame and tires built for both road and trail biking. Additionally, the owner measures your legs and torso and fits the bike to your body. He also explains how the gears work, what type of clothing is optimal, and advises you on hydration and snacking during your trip. Now you’re really ready to go and make it to your destination in record time without a single problem.

See the difference?

Personalization matters when it comes to providing legal advice, writing legal documents, and performing legal actions like trademarking, incorporation and estate planning. Sure, you’ll pay a little more for a living, breathing attorney in the short term, but if you aren’t careful and don’t properly understand your LegalZoom documents, you may end up paying far more in the future if your templates don’t cover your particular situation as well as you thought.

To speak to an attorney in Sacramento who can provide personalized legal services in the areas of estate planning, probate, trust administration, trust litigation, elder law and business planning, please contact the Law Office of Justin Gilbert at (916) 932-7416.

What Do I Need to Know About Identity Theft and Other Legal Issues?

We would like to welcome this month’s guest blog, Mikel O’Riordan of Legal Shield! Mikel is a Small Business & Group Benefits Specialist and has expertise in legal issues. Contact Mikel at mikelo@surewest.net. 

In America, legal representation is available for the top 10% income earners and also to lowest ten per cent.  The top 10% have attorneys on retainer while the lowest have legal aid provided.

That leaves the remaining 80% (the rest of us) left with major problems when, not if, legal issues and Identity Theft problems inevitably arise.

Would you agree we live in a much more litigious society than in the past?  It sometimes seems the new gold rush is to sue someone or a corporation or steal someone’s identity.

An extensive survey on legal needs in America was done by top research company Decision Analyst between September 20th and 26th 2012.  They interviewed 1,000 participants.  The responses were startling!   Fifty seven million full time working Americans experienced at least one significant legal issue in the previous year.   And what choices did they have in terms of dealing with their legal issues?  Having had a law degree since 1991, I’m not very proud of the survey results.

Respondents reported paying an average of $284 an hour with nearly 25% paying in excess of $400 per hour.  Additionally, and in some ways most startling, 20% did not know what their attorney’s hourly rate was.   Seventy two per cent of respondents believe most attorneys are difficult to reach by phone.   I can easily relate to that viewpoint.  In the past even when I paid a law firm a substantial retainer it was like Christmas coming early if they ever returned my calls in a timely manner. 

Sixty three per cent believe that lawyers are not responsive. 

An overwhelming seventy six per cent of respondents said they were reluctant to even call an attorney.

Seventy four per cent said they dreaded the thought of talking to a lawyer.

The majority of respondents reported they did not know a lawyer to call prior to meeting one.  The remainder said they found an attorney randomly through an online search, the Yellow Pages or through some other form of advertising.

So what issues did they face?   They included IRS audits, divorce, child custody, automobile accidents, Identity Theft, a spouse dying without a will, buying or refinancing a property or home, being sued, preparation of wills and trusts, warranty issues, contract review and many others.

So what solution is available?  What if you could have a law firm in every state in the union at your disposal and never have to worry about finding a highly qualified attorney to deal with your specific issues?

What if you no longer needed to worry about exorbitant hourly rates or finding a credible solution for your Identity Theft concerns?

How can your life be impacted by Identity Theft and how likely is it to happen to you?  Most people tend to think of Identity Theft being primarily a credit card issue.  In its 2112 annual report, the Fair Trade commission confirmed that, yet again, Identity Theft was for the eleventh year in a row, is the biggest issue for consumers in America.  But credit card issues only accounted for 16% of all problems.

Every three seconds an identity is stolen with horrendous consequences for the individuals involved.  Examples of damage include bank accounts being wiped out, incorrect medical records created, holds being put on accounts by the IRS for alleged nonpayment of income tax in states the individual have never visited, employment denied due to poor credit or poor reported work history, social security checks and IRS refunds being easily stolen.

The question you need to ask the provider of your Identity Theft plan is what will they do for you when your identity is stolen?  Will they send you reams of paperwork to complete on your own or will they assign an investigator to your claim, so that you can get on with your life with relative peace of mind knowing a competent firm is working on your behalf to mitigate the harm done to you?

For more specific information on either legal services or Identity Theft concerns please contact me.  If requested, I’ll email you a free copy of the report The Legal Needs of American Families and also the FTC 2012 report on identity Theft in America.