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Estate planning among top offerings in group legal services

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Legal assistance for drafting wills and estate plans are the most widely offered employer-sponsored benefit in voluntary group legal services plans, new research shows.

MetLife discloses this finding in “Getting to Loyal: Legal Services Distinguish Your Company and Help Meet the Personalized Benefit Needs of Employees.” SourceMedia, New York, fielded the online survey in November to 359 business decision-makers in human resources and benefits teams at organizations that offer voluntary employee benefits to more than 1000 employees.

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The report reveals that legal assistance for drafting wills and estate plans are offered by 26 percent of voluntary group legal plans at large organizations, the most widely featured benefit in these plans. Less frequently offered in the plans are:

  • Legal assistance with family matters – 22 percent of group legal plans;
  • Home purchase/sales and credit problems – 17 percent;
  • Consumer matters and civil litigation defense – 16 percent each;
  • Refinancing – 9 percent; and
  • Tax audits – 7 percent.

Usage of several legal plan benefits have increased markedly since 2007, the report shows. Whereas usage of legal services to manage debt and financial matters stood at 100 percent four years ago, today usage stands at 210 percent, a 110 percent rise.

Similarly, usage of legal services has risen in cases involving:

  • Bankruptcy – 200 percent in 2012 vs. 100 percent in 2007;
  • Debt collection defense – 150 percent vs. 100 percent; and
  • Refinancing/home equity loans – 175 percent vs. 100 percent.

When asked how legal services best benefit employees, 57 percent of survey respondents answered: “minimizing employee stress from dealing with legal matters.” Many respondents also flag:

  • Affordability – 45 percent;
  • Minimizing amount of time employees deal with personal issues at works – 34 percent;
  • Improving employee peace of mind – 34 percent;
  • Improving employee well-being – 26 percent;
  • Minimizing employee time off to deal with personal issues – 21 percent; and
  • Improving employee productivity – 15 percent.