Assume you are considering purchasing LegalZoom’s estate planning documents. Bear in mind that once you make the purchase LegalZoom’s website prompts you to provide the information, your personal information, its document processing service needs to prepare your documents, including your will, living will and appointment of health care agent. Most people would regard such personal information as private. Lawyers in every jurisdiction have a professional obligation not to reveal information relating to representation. What about LegalZoom? What are its obligations with respect to the information you provide to it?
In attempting to answer that question, one should take the following language from LegalZoom’s Terms and Conditions into account:
9. Unsolicited Submissions. LegalZoom does not want you to submit confidential or proprietary information to it through this Site. All comments, feedback, information or material submitted to LegalZoom through or in association with this Site shall be considered non-confidential and LegalZoom’s property. By providing such submissions to LegalZoom you hereby assign to LegalZoom, at no charge, all worldwide right, title and interest in and to the submissions and any intellectual property rights associated therewith. LegalZoom shall be free to use and/or disseminate such submissions on an unrestricted basis for any purpose. You acknowledge that you are responsible for the submissions that you provide, including their legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality and content. (Emphasis added)
Does that language mean that LegalZoom owns your estate planning documents and that it could, if it wished, publish them on the Internet or sell them to someone else? One assumes not, but language has meaning and the language LeglZoom has chosen raises a significant question. Is there any promise anywhere on the LegalZoom site that LegalZoom will not reveal your estate planning documents? There is no attorney-client privilege between LegalZoom and its customers, and if, as LegalZoom goes to great lengths to emphasize LegalZoom is not governed by the rules of professional conduct that apply to lawyers, then what basis is there for believing one’s personal information is safe with LegalZoom?
LegalZoom’s site does contain what sounds like promises regarding privacy and security. Click here for more information.