Looking for the best online will maker?
Here are four free or cheap services that can help you create will in around 15 minutes or less!
Finding the best online will maker for your situation
As we welcome a new year, it’s a great time to think ahead for the future and make sure your finances are in order.
Making a will is often among the first steps that people take when they get serious about their finances and their family’s well-being.
If you’re looking for the best online wills, here are some options to consider…
Best online wills guide: Table of contents
- Price: Starts at $69
- Time commitment: 15 minutes
- Key selling point: Paid access to independent attorneys
For years, money expert Clark Howard has tried to drive home to his listeners and readers the importance of having a last will and testament.
One of the sites he’s recommended frequently to simplify the process of getting a will in place is LegalZoom.com.
LegalZoom packages start at $69 and go up to $149 for a last will and testament. The higher you go in price, the more access you get to an independent attorney who you can consult on issues of drawing up your will or other legal matters.
Expect to spend around 15 minutes making your will with LegalZoom.
Quicken WillMaker Plus
- Price: $79.99
- Time commitment: 15 minutes
- Key selling point: Access to a robust suite of legal forms
This product from Nolo.com is another one that Clark has long recommended.
Much like LegalZoom, WillMaker offers a quick and easy way to do a will online that takes about 15 minutes.
What really differentiates WillMaker is that you get access to a customized estate plan, including a will, living trust, health care directive, financial power of attorney, and other essential documents for one flat fee of $79.99.
- Price: Free
- Time commitment: 5 minutes
- Key selling point: It’s easy and free!
If paying an average of around $70 for the software that allows you to do a will yourself is too rich for your blood, there are a couple of free options out there.
First among them is a life insurance startup called Fabric that’s also offering free online will prep.
At MeetFabric.com/Wills, you can create a will in just five minutes right on your smartphone. There are no apps to download, no services to sign up for and no gimmicks.
You don’t even need to be a life insurance customer with a Fabric policy to do the free will prep — it’s available to anyone!
Read our step-by-step walkthrough of the Fabric free will process here.
- Price: Free
- Time commitment: 20 minutes
- Key selling point: Ideal for those who want to do planned giving and/or leave bequests
If charitable giving is part of your estate planning, you might consider another new free option for doing a will from a group that simply calls itself FreeWill.
FreeWill, which says you can use it to create a will online in about 20 minutes, simplifies the process of making a bequest to charities that are near and dear to your heart.
The business model here is that charitable institutions pay a fee to FreeWill for the ability to reach out to donors like you and cultivate a relationship. That’s how FreeWill is able to make its will prep software available at no cost to users.
So far, those users have committed some $300 million to nonprofit organizations through the platform.
You can read more about FreeWill here.
How to make your will legally binding
No matter which option you choose, you’ll have some work to do after you create your will online and print it out. Here are the five basic steps you need to take:
- Find two disinterested witnesses to verify that you are of sound mind at the time of signing. These can even be co-workers of yours.
- Sign your will.
- Including an Affidavit of Attesting Witnesses is recommended, though not necessary. If you choose to do this, you will need to use the services of a notary public.
- Once your will is signed, be sure to store it in a safe place.
- Finally, contact your executor and another party to tell them where the will is stored.
Common myths about wills debunked
If you haven’t done a will so far in life, you aren’t alone. According to one study, 6 in 10 adults haven’t done a will or any kind of estate planning.
If you don’t have children and have very little in the way of assets, that may be okay for you. But in pretty much any other situation, having a will is critical.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about doing a will that people use to justify not having one in place…
‘I don’t need a will’
True or false? The answer is…it depends.
If you have children, you need a will for the simple fact that if you don’t have one, the state would decide who raises your kids if something were to happen to you.
That’s just how it goes if there’s no document with written directive from you.
If you don’t have kids but you are married — and don’t have a will in place — the state would decide how your money is allocated if something were to happen to you.
The same holds true if you and a partner are living together and aren’t married. In many cases, your partner will not be considered to inherit your estate unless you put it in writing.
‘My spouse will automatically get everything I have’
One of the biggest misconceptions that causes people to ignore putting a will in place is this assumption: “Won’t my spouse automatically get everything I have?”
No. It doesn’t always work like that — and it actually depends on the type of assets you leave behind and the laws in your state. When you die without a will — or what’s called “intestate” to the legal types — the state decides who gets what.
For example, below is how it works in Georgia, money expert Clark Howard’s home state. This is a quote from Nolo.com, which in addition to offering will preparation is a great free resource for all things legal:
“In Georgia, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living descendants — children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. If you don’t, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate property. If you do, they and your spouse will share your intestate property equally, except that your spouse’s share cannot be less than 1/3.”
Of course, the specifics are different in every state. But in general, the state decides who gets what, often by statute done by the state legislature.
‘Doing a will is too important to entrust to anybody except a lawyer’
If you have a complicated life — maybe you own your own business, have built up a lot of assets or you have a blended family — you probably won’t want to go the online, self-prepared route. You’ll likely need to go see a lawyer who specializes in wills, estates and trusts.
But for everybody else, Clark Howard says that doing it online yourself is a viable option.
The reality is that all of these online services do a great job of asking interactive questions to guide you through the will-completion process. If you want to just push through for peace of mind, it is much cheaper to have a lawyer review the will you’ve self-prepared than to have them actually prepare one for you from scratch.
‘Doing a will is too expensive and takes a long time”‘
Definitely not true! As you can see above, you can get a simple will in place in about 15 minutes on average using any of the options we’ve listed above.
Don’t leave the future of your heirs in someone else’s hands! Get a will in place today.
This article originally published on Clark.com Theo Thimou