Last year, several Walmart stores in Canada began offering customers the chance to buy low-cost legal services. The stores have rented space to a law firm that provides quick, cheap legal services to shoppers in much the same way the pharmacy offers prescription medications. The services offered include notarization of documents and the drawing up of simple wills. The law firm offering the services also has plans to add uncontested divorce services at some point in the future.
While the service is currently only available in a small number of Walmart stores in Canada, it raises some important questions.
Canadian vs American Law
Currently, only a handful of Walmart stores in Canada offer their shoppers the low-cost legal services. And while the laws in Canada and the United States are not all that different when it comes to what people can do with a will, there are some significant differences that might make legal services through Walmart a harder sell here.
There are strict rules that limit who can offer legal advice in the United States, and Walmart would likely not be able to offer the services directly to customers on its own. However, law firms might be able to lease space in Walmart stores and offer the low-cost will legal services in much the same way the Canadian stores do.
Walmart, Low-Cost Legal Services, and DIY Estate Planning
Some of the legal services offered through Walmart, such as the notarization of documents, appear to be simple and fairly routine, while others, such as the drafting of a will, appear more complicated. If these services ever come to a Walmart near you, should you consider using them to save money? There are several issues to consider when asking this question.
While many people worry that hiring a lawyer to write a will or create an estate plan will be too expensive, the cost if often cheaper than most people expect. Not only that, but there is a lot more that goes into a ‘basic’ will than many people expect. For example, you might want to make a last will and testament to ensure that your children will receive an equal inheritance after you die. But what if those children are under 18? Who should serve as trustee of their inheritances until they are old enough? What if one of them dies before you do? What about jointly owned property you own with your spouse, or transfer-on-death property that allows you to name a beneficiary? You’ll need to be clear about
Further, an estate plan is a lot more than only a will. A good estate plan includes multiple documents, such as advance directives, trusts, and powers of attorney. A will is a good start, but it’s no substitute for a comprehensive estate plan.