The 9 best online legal services for business, wills, divorce and more
We have TurboTax to file taxes to the IRS, WebMD to diagnose that weird rash, and now, online legal platforms to help us make sense of big decisions like starting a business or getting a divorce.
“Certain legal situations, like calculating child support, can be done without a lawyer if you have a straightforward family situation with two wage earners and a couple of kids,“ said Michael Stutman, a family lawyer whose office is in Midtown East.
Though “you can do pretty well for yourself online,” Stutman warned that complicated arbitrations, like ones involving assets like real estate or intricate retirement plans, might require real-life intervention. “It’s very hard for an Internet robot to ask the appropriate follow-up questions.”
Still, the Internet can be a great resource to save time by forgoing hard-to-get appointments with top litigators, and money, on eye-watering legal fees. Here are the top online legal resources.
1. LegalZoom: A little of everything
The most popular catchall for legal advice is LegalZoom, and it’s great if you’re on a budget. Tiered pricing plans allow for basic, premium and gold-star plans, and the last two guarantee a review of your work by a real lawyer in the LegalZoom network.
LegalZoom separates their services into three categories: “Business Formation,” “Wills and Trusts” and “Intellectual Property,” plus their legal directory.
This one-stop shop is a good place to start if you’re incorporating a business — their LLC package starts at $79 — or hoping to do some estate planning, such as setting up a living will or financial power of attorney, from top to bottom. Membership plans are also available for businesses — let’s call it a retainer — for $31.25 per month.
2. BizFilings: The full-service site for businesses
Not sure the difference between a C-Corporation, an S-Corp and a nonprofit? BizFilings is the place to learn about federal and state codes when it comes to your new business. The platform has helped to incorporate over half a million corporations, nonprofits and small businesses.
From formalizing your venture and managing employees to protecting against fraud or paying your taxes, this platform helps make sure nothing falls through the cracks. The basic package, not including specific state fees to start your business, starts at $99 for an LLC, while full-service packages, which include things like payroll options and sales tax registration fees, can go up to $1,500.
3. LegalShield: The online site for individuals & small businesses
If you’re seeking affordable legal help for everyday issues, consider LegalShield. Prices for individuals and families start at $24.95 a month, while small business plans start at $49 a month. With this service, you’ll have a variety of services at your disposal, from advice and consultation to document reviews.
LegalShield also specializes in estate planning, traffic assistance, tax audit services, LLC formation and more. It’s also a catered-to-you service; simply select your preferred plan, match with a law firm from LegalShield’s network, get the help you need and have peace of mind. It’s that simple.
4. Rocketlawyer: The best DIY option
If you’re confident in torts and contracts, opt for RocketLawyer, which offers unlimited legal docs like non-disclosure agreements, living wills and divorce settlements for $39.99 per month. Documents become available for printing immediately and their eSignature feature makes it easy to sign and store important agreements.
The RocketLawyer software also takes into account state-specific requirements for things like eviction notices and lease agreements, and will alert you to next steps to make your doc legally binding, such as going to a notary or getting a witness.
5. LegalNature: Marriage from A-Z (including cheap divorces)
LegalNature offers tons of forms for everything from a US passport application to employment contracts. They even offer templates for formal paperwork like letters of recommendation and invoices. But their section on “Marriage and Divorce” is especially thorough, offering prenup and post-nup agreements in addition to affidavits of marriage, which can replace a marriage certificate if the original is lost, or make a common law marriage official. If you and a spouse plan to split amicably, use LegalNature’s “Divorce Settlement Agreement” to set the terms of your separation.
Single documents through LegalNature start at $34.95, or you can opt for a membership for your business or if you’re a landlord in need of ongoing legal support. Stutman supports prenups, which can feel controversial for some couples, and called the simple form, “one of the cheapest pieces of insurance you can get.”
6. Nolo: The best choice for wills and estate planning
Nolo’s “Quicken WillMaker & Trust” software is considered the best in the biz, and at $99, it won’t break the bank or eat into a potential trust fund. The program includes forms to help next of kin navigate health care choices, final arrangements and more.
The estate-planning tool also allows you to put all of your financial records, important documents such as deeds and information for caregivers or survivors — including account passwords — in the same, secure place.
Another plus: Comprehensive interview questions ensure that you’re not missing anything from your trust. And the content will be tailored to whichever state you reside in.
7. LegalMatch: The ultimate directory
If you decide that your legal problem needs to be addressed by a live lawyer, the Internet can still help. LegalMatch is like ZocDoc for attorneys: you can find the right representation for your case, and it’s completely free. Plus, the site works like a “Wanted” ad.
You can enter what kind of lawyer you’re looking for — read: a drop-down menu with “Family,” “Criminal Defense” and “Immigration” options, to name a few — and plug in some features of your case, like if you’re looking to get alimony or sue for overtime pay, and the law professionals will call you to pitch themselves for your case.
8.ZenBusiness: Best for entrepreneurs to start your business
To start and grow your side hustle, ZenBusiness is one of the best services you can sign up for. Namely, it’s a full-service online legal site that handles everything from choosing the right business structure to registering and branding your business. You can even access tools through ZenBusiness to help you manage income and expenses.
What’s more, you can even find funding, open new locations and expand in the future. If you want to take your business to the next level, you can start for free or upgrade to the service’s most popular Pro plan for $199.
9. Inc Authority: Best for tax-deductible business pursuits
With Inc Authority, you’ll benefit from a 100% free online LLC registration. Impressively, you’ll only pay the required state fees, but those are tax-deductible.
If you’re skeptical about your small business or just want to start with the first step of registering it for now, Inc Authority is great for mitigating much of the legal fees you’d otherwise have to pay for. With 32 years in business and more than 250K entities formed, you’ll appreciate this easy-to-use service.