E187 3 Best Free DIY Will Software

E187 3 Best Free DIY Will Software


Many people who ask me to be their executor commonly make their will using do-it-yourself methods. DIY estate planning can be tricky, so here are some tips on how to maximize the chances your DIY estate plan will actually work.

Our Methodology

We created identical estate plans using 3 popular free DIY will sites. Here is the fictional persona we used:

  • John Doe is a solo ager. That is, he’s unmarried with no children
  • Unless your will is super-simple, you should work with a lawyer. So John’s plan is very basic: he’d like to give his estate in equal thirds to two friends and one charity
  • John would like to nominate me as his professional executor
  • John will hire a lawyer to supervise his signing, as we recommend. Therefore, we did not review each site’s signing instructions

We generated John’s will on the 3 free sites. Then, my trusted colleague Maureen Pritchard, Esq. and I reviewed the results.

FreeWill.com

free will logo

Our top pick for DIY will software is FreeWill.com. The site is well-designed, and pleasant to navigate, and John’s will had zero errors.

The only caveat is the constant requests for donations. The site was funded by various charities, and they’re not shy about asking to be named in your will. We were interrupted several times with prompts asking if John would like to add charitable beneficiaries to his will.

But if you’re thick-skinned and can ignore the pushy requests, or if you plan to give to charity anyway, this is a great choice.

Pros

  • Very professional product. The will did not have any typos or substantive errors
  • Well-designed site. A very pleasant user experience
  • Includes health care documents, too

Cons

  • Barrage of requests for charitable donations
  • Your will includes signatures lines and initials on each page. These are not legally necessary, and feel like overkill

DoYourOwnWill.com

DoYourOwnWill.com logo

DoYourOwnWill.com is truly a 100% free option for making a DIY will. You don’t even have to give you email address (unless you want to save your will). This means that you’re not even paying with your personal data.

But, just as in most of life, you get what you pay for. It may be completely free, but it has a few problems.

Pros

  • 100% Free. Not even an email required
  • Most private option
  • Easy-to-follow user-interface
  • Includes health care documents, too

Cons

  • Several typos in John’s will. Despite the typos, the will was substantively fine
  • John’s burial instruction is written into his will. In real life, this doesn’t make much sense, since in many cases no one even looks at the will until after the funeral,.

RocketLawyer.com

RocketLawyer.com logo

RocketLawyer is the most well-known brand on this list but be prepared to be up-sold from their free option to one of their more profitable packages.

It doesn’t feel like they spent a lot of effort on this free version. The user-experience is very clunky, and John’s will has substantive errors. Maybe the plan is to nudge free users to a better, paid version?

 

Pros

  • RocketLawyer is big name in legal DIY
  • You may already have a RocketLawyer account and feel comfortable with their platform

Cons

  • You must create an account, and it feels like you’ll get up-sold a lot
  • John’s will had a substantive error (the will treated the charity as an individual. Not necessarily fatal, but can cause headaches later during the probate process)
  • We couldn’t find healthcare documents as part of the free package

There are many DIY estate planning sites out there. We hope that our review and recommendations will help you pick the one that’s right for you. To learn more about the process of planning your estate, complete the info below to receive a FREE copy of my best-sellingbook.

FREE Copy of The Solo Ager Estate Plan

The Solo Ager Estate Plan Cover 3D
Complete this form to receive your complimentary copy of Anthony’s Amazon best-seller, “The Solo Ager Estate Plan
E186 Who Will Bury Me If I Have No Family_

E186 Who Will Bury Me If I Have No Family?


This is an important question for Solo Agers, or for anyone without family nearby.

Friends, Neighbors, Community

Pros

Your close friends, neighbors, etc. probably know your wishes best. And they also most want to honor you, have a nice remembrance.

Cons

It’s a big ask, even for close friends. Tending to final remains, and organizing a funeral service is a big and emotional job. Your friends may prefer to attend your funeral, not run it.

Distant Family

Pros

Blood is thicker than water, right? You may feel than any relative, even estranged, is most appropriate.

Cons

Just like with close friends, it’s a big ask. And distant relatives won’t know much about you or your final wishes.

funeral flowers

Hired Professional

Pros

Want something done as you like? What better way then to hire someone? With friends and family, it’s either an honor or an obligation. Hire a pro, and it’s their job. A professional with a reputation to protect will reliably carry out your final wishes.

Cons

A professional may not have the same warmth as a friend or family. But remember, someone like a professional executor is just organizing burial and the funeral. Your friends are still in attendance, and free to focus on remembering you.

The Public Option: Pauper’s Funeral

Pros

Well, it’s free. Yes, the state has a burial option of last resort for anyone with no family or no money.

Cons

It’s in the name: this is a pauper’s funeral. Typically for the homeless, your burial will be carried out by New York’s incarcerated.

E183 Did Her Estate Plan Work?

E183 Did Her Estate Plan Work? A Solo Ager Example


Let’s take a look at a real world example of whether a Solo Ager’s estate plan worked towards the end of her life.

Ms.H’s Plan: DIY Will + Professional Executor

Background

Ms. H is a solo ager (unmarried, no kids, over 60 years old) who’s been estranged from her closest relatives (siblings and nieces and nephews) for decades.

She made a do-it-yourself will leaving everything to charity. Thankfully, she hired a lawyer to supervise her will signing.

Ms. H named me her professional executor in her will, and over the past 10 years her wishes have remained largely the same.

Recently

Sadly, age has caught up with Ms. H, and she was recently hospitalized for lack of self-care. Her doctors agree they cannot discharge her to live alone anymore, so we’re making arrangements for Ms. H to move into assisted living.

take care of yourself

She’s understandably anxious about all this, and even contacted her long-estranged niece and asked her to visit.

What Went Right with Her Plan?

Ms. H avoided a few problems by naming me her professional executor.

First, she won’t have to deal with any “court-appointed strangers,” such as a guardian. Instead, she can turn to me, someone she’s chosen and has a relationship with.

Second, she felt comfortable reaching out to estranged family, without fear they’d try to sneak into her inheritance. Since Ms. H already has a will and an attorney-executor standing by, her niece has focused solely on reconnecting with Ms. H emotional, not financially.

And lastly, Ms. H’s doctors, hospitals, and social worker have all been grateful to have me as a main point of contact for her care.

What Went Wrong with Her Plan?

Her plan does have a couple of weaknesses.

Since an executor steps in after death, I don’t have authority to help Ms. H now. For example, I can’t help make financial arrangements for her to access a better assisted living. She much choose among the options thru Medicare.

Also, if unscrupulous and aggressive family comes out of the woodwork, I have fewer tools to fend them off. We’d have to battle in court, which could waste Ms. H’s time and money, and cause her stress.

Why a Trust Could Have Been Better

If Ms. H had made me trustee, I’d be better to avoid any court-appointed strangers for her. And more ability to upgrade her care, and deter unwanted family, without having to go to court.

Living trust and estate planning form on a desk.

FREE Copy of The Solo Ager Estate Plan

The Solo Ager Estate Plan Cover 3D

Complete this form to receive your complimentary copy of Anthony’s Amazon best-seller, “The Solo Ager Estate Plan

E179 3 Steps to Make Sure Your DIY Will Works

E179 3 Steps to Make Sure Your DIY Will Works


Since we keep seeing folks who are going the DIY will route, a few more tips on how to make sure that software or will form actually works

Today we’ll discuss:

  1. Use local software/forms
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Hire a lawyer to supervise the signing

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E163 Always Leave Inheritance in a Trust Fund

E163 Always Leave Inheritance in a Trust Fund


Rich people don’t walk past free money, they pick it up (metaphor, not literally). Let’s discuss an estate planning example: asset protection trusts instead of direct gifts

Today we’ll discuss:

  1. What’s a direct gift?
  2. What’s an asset protection trust?
  3. Why it’s “free money” that EVERYONE should take

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E162 Post-Coronavirus Trusts Make Even MORE Sense

E162 Post-Coronavirus Trusts Make Even MORE Sense


There are lots of reasons why a trust is better than just a will. And post-coronavirus, a trust makes even MORE sense.

Today we’ll discuss:

  1. Video notary instead of witnesses
  2. Quarantine is a new type of incapacity
  3. Locked down courts: another reason to avoid probate

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E161 Court-Appointed Strangers

E161 Court-Appointed Strangers

Most of us cringe at the idea of some stranger or bureaucrat having power over us. But that’s exactly what happens with Court-Appointed Strangers. Specifically Guardians: the strangers with power over our seniors

Today we’ll discuss:
(1) How Guardians get power
(2) Some unnerving examples
(3) It’s always about money
(4) How to avoid this type of stranger
(5) Other types of court-appointed strangers

Estate Planning for Bitcoin

Estate Planning for Bitcoin

Cryptocurrency has an estate planning problem. And it’s one of the barriers to wider cryptocurrency acceptance. Nobody wants to accumulate an asset that may disappear, often upon death.

Getting Final Affairs in Order Before Death

Getting Final Affairs in Order Before Death

Whether you’re the caregiver or the terminally ill, it can be satisfying to help get organized and take inventory. This is really important if there aren’t many close relatives.

5 Mistakes With DIY Wills and Witnesses

E151 5 Mistakes With DIY Wills and Witnesses


I get that Do-it-Yourself is very tempting. But you may be creating HUGE problems for your heirs.

We’ll discuss:

  1. Witnesses names
  2. Witness addresses
  3. “Self-proving”
  4. Professional witnesses
  5. Court’s assumptions

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Pick up my books on Amazon. Reviews always appreciated!

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