updated 9/15/2010 8:45:35 AM ET 2010-09-15T12:45:35

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- LegalZoom, the nation's leading provider of online legal document services, today announced it would donate $1 to the American Red Cross for every Last Will, Living Trust, Living Will and Power of Attorney created in the month of September.

Launched in 2004 by the American Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Preparedness Month is a nationwide coordinated effort to encourage people to be better prepared for disasters and other emergencies at their home, school and workplace.

"Disaster response has taught us that the combined resources of the government, community organizations and the Red Cross will never be big enough to do it all in every disaster," said Joe Becker, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. "Every person, business, school and house of worship must be prepared to take care of themselves and their neighbors in an emergency."

According to a national study conducted last year, 56 percent of Americans have no household disaster plan in place. With about 43 percent of Americans reporting they had no supplies for disasters set aside in their homes, the American Red Cross has become actively involved in making preparedness a top priority.

"We want to both financially support the American Red Cross' humanitarian mission, while at the same time encouraging better preparedness with important legal documents," said Nelly Jacobo, VP and General Manager of the Personal Services Division for LegalZoom. "Some estimates show a staggering 74 percent of Americans do not have a valid Last Will, which can cause untold financial losses and take a great emotional toll on families in times of personal crisis."

LegalZoom personal legal documents include a Last Will, which distributes assets to beneficiaries and names guardians for minor children; a Living Trust, which protects an estate from probate and keeps affairs private; a Living Will, which specifies advanced health care directives in case of incapacity; and a Durable or Health Care Power of Attorney, which appoint a specific person to make financial or health care decisions for you.

In addition to having the documents properly prepared and filed, it's essential that people place their important legal documents in a safe place -- or multiple places -- that are known and accessible by every member of the family.

While natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, wild fires and floods are often the most dramatic kind of emergency to draw attention, the most common disaster the Red Cross responds to is a house fire.

The American Red Cross recommends three simple steps to preparedness: 1) build a kit, 2) make a plan, and 3) be informed.

LegalZoom makes preparing important personal legal documents easy, convenient and affordable through its website, LegalZoom.com. Trained customer care specialists are on hand Monday‑Friday, 7AM‑5PM PST to guide customers though the process, and review documents for consistency, completeness and common mistakes. LegalZoom completes the process by filing the documents with the appropriate court or government agency.

For more information about National Preparedness Month, please visit www.redcross.org/preparedness/npm

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization -- not a government agency -- and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org.

About LegalZoom

LegalZoom.com is the nation's leading online legal document service. Cofounded by top attorneys including Robert Shapiro in 2001, LegalZoom.com offers a convenient and effective way to take care of common legal matters. Offerings include: Last Wills, Living Trusts, Living Wills, Durable Power of Attorney, Incorporation, Small Claims, Divorce and more. LegalZoom is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or counsel. For more information, please visit www.legalzoom.com.

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