An Introduction To Pre-Paid Legal Plans.
This post ( a possible prelude to a series of posts) is intended as an introduction to what a pre-paid legal plan is, how it might be used and some of my experiences in using what I consider a valuable tool. There are several providers of this service available. I have experience with only one and can only relate my experience with that provider. This is not intended as a recruiting piece. I will not include any links to my web site nor mention the name of the provider I use. Bigger Pockets frowns on that and I agree with their stance on posts that are primarily spam with only a bit of content. If you are reading this it may mean that the BP moderators have not yet found this post or that they agree I have stayed on the right side of the line.
What is a pre-paid legal plan? It is simply a group plan where members join and pay a modest monthly fee (~$25 monthly) to have access to a range of legal services at no additional charge. The available services will vary by provider and plan. These can include basic will preparation, document review, research, writing of letters, phone consultation and other services. If you are wholesaling, renting, or buying real estate you will have the need of legal advice from time to time. I do, indeed, speak from experience. The legal plan lawyer can provide a quick assessment of the situation you are facing. Most people wait too long to get legal opinions. (The best time to get a legal opinion is often well in advance of the need.) They either ignore situations hoping they will resolve on their own or take uniformed actions which put them in less favorable positions than they would have been in had they done nothing. Why is this? As you know, lawyers can be expensive and their meters often start running as soon as they pick up the phone. The pre-paid plans offer consultations at no additional cost. Will you be more likely to consult with a lawyer when your plan provides unlimited phone consultation at no additional charge? Of course you will.
We are all faced with nuisance situations, an overcharge on a bill, a dispute over a poorly provided service, a traffic ticket—when you consult a lawyer you will know exactly where you stand, how to protect your rights and what might happen if you assert your rights. Real estate investors are often presented with contracts which are difficult to understand even if they were written well (they are often not). Would you be more comfortable if you had a lawyer explain exactly what that mystery clause means? Landlords incur threats of potential legal action from tenants. Most of those threats will never be acted on but would you be more comfortable if you knew exactly what your rights were and how to defend against the threatened action immediately? What if the consultation with the lawyer revealed a way for you to terminate a difficult tenancy?
At least one pre-paid legal plan has contracted law firms in all 50 US States and some of the Canadian Provinces. Real estate, contract and finance law vary significantly from State to State. Even if you have an intricate understanding of the procedures in your State (or Province) if a situation arises with a property you own, manage or are considering purchasing in another State would you appreciate having access to a lawyer who knows the law in the remote location? Do you have access to a law firm in the locality of your investment? One that provides free phone consultation?
I am going to wrap this up before it gets too long. This train of thought went in a different direction than I had intended and I didn’t get to my personal experiences with my pre-paid plan lawyers (they are mixed). If you are interested in this becoming a series of posts let me know in the comments. I will be happy to expand on this if the BP moderators allow.
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