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Creating a will can be an emotional process. Most of us don't like to think about leaving our loved ones behind. Who will take care of our pets? Who will be the guardians of our children? Who should receive the family heirlooms? However, having a will can be one of the best - and easiest - ways to make our wishes known, and to spare them from having to make heart-wrenching decisions in the midst of their grief.
Wills are just one document that is often included in estate planning. You may also have heard of Living Trusts, Power of Attorney, Living Wills (also known as Advance Directives), and more. What's the difference among all of them, and which ones do you need?
Wednesday, February 8th
US Legal Wills is the most comprehensive will creation service on the market. Perks include a unique Keyholder feature for giving access to your executor, friends, and/or loved ones after you pass on. You won't be subjected to any automatic memberships here, and your account allows you to make unlimited updates in the first year. In business since 2000, US Legal Wills has made a huge jump in our rankings since our last evaluation, moving up into our top spot.
You can create your will for free with Rocket Lawyer. Just sign up for their 7-day trial and be sure to cancel before the membership fees kick in. Or, use the $5 Premium trial to create your other estate planning documents - and any other legal forms you need - within that week. Membership comes with benefits, though, and thousands of Rocket Lawyer customers give the service a perfect five-star rating. We recommend this company as a great way to create a will at no cost - and to get help on a variety of legal situations.
LegalZoom has been around for a long time - since 2001, to be exact - and they've helped over four million people get affordable access to legal documents that are valid in each of the 50 United States. LegalZoom offers a nice mix of online convenience and attorney review (if you choose that feature). This is an uncomplicated, affordable way to get your will created - without having to pay a month-to-month subscription for documents you don't need.
In business since 2001, LawDepot lets you create your will for free online - well, sort of. You'll enter your information and see the preview at every step of the way; at the end, you can choose whether you'd like to pay a one-time fee to download it or if you'd like ongoing access to their library of over 150 legal documents. Take advantage of the one-week trial to see if an annual or month-to-month plan is right for you, but be aware that some clients have had trouble getting their accounts closed. Still, most LawDepot users give this platform a five-star rating, and we recommend you check out their will creation service.
LegalShield's affordable monthly membership includes will creation for everyone in your household: you, your partner/spouse, and all of your dependent children under 26. You'll work with a law firm in their network to get your documents created: no fill-in-the-blank service here. While not every legal document is included in your membership - trusts and many others come at a 25% discount on the fees - this is still a low-cost way to get wills drawn up for everyone in your home, whether or not you become a long-term subscriber.
Trust & Will, as you'd guess from the name, focuses on helping people create wills and living trusts. This service isn't cheap, starting at $159 for wills and $599 for trusts, but you get a comprehensive set of documents when you're done. And, residents of some states can get a year of unlimited attorney consultations for an extra $200. Thousands of clients have used Trust & Will since 2017 and given it high praise, but our experience was slightly less-than-fantastic.
Parting Wishes is the Canada-based sister site to US Legal Wills, another service we evaluated. This platform has some unique features that will get your attention, all affordably priced. If you happen to be Canadian, this is one of the will creation services we'd recommend - but for anyone in the United States, Parting Wishes' sister service is the better jumping off point if you like what's on offer here.
LegalNature gives you all-in-one access to a wide variety of legal documents, not just for wills and other estate planning but also paperwork for individuals, businesses, and real estate. The document creation process is clearly explained and you can preview how your last will and testament will look before offering any personal information. However, you'll pay more than average here, and some clients aren't happy with the customer support they received (or didn't). LegalNature is good but not great yet.
Wills focuses on just one service: creation of your Last Will and Testament. The interface is easy to use and walks you through step-by-step, all for a low one-time fee of just $75 with unlimited lifetime changes. This service is so new that there's not much feedback, and because this isn't a law firm or legal service, you get no guarantees that your will is going to be accepted in your state. You may want to check out Wills' competitors first.
Find Legal Forms is one of the most basic options you have for creating your own will. Just select the document(s) you need, download the file, and follow the guidelines and instructions to fill it out. You won't get much else, though - questions can only be asked through an online form, and despite bragging about having over 3 million happy customers, we had trouble finding reviews from any within the last few years. Find Legal Forms isn't the worst choice for doing your will, but it's far from being the best.
Legal Contracts will show you exactly what to expect from their will-creation process from the moment you land on their site: answer some questions, create your document, and start your free 7-day trial. Just make sure you cancel before that week is up, otherwise you'll be automatically enrolled in their $33/month service - and according to clients, you may get charged even if you think you've successfully closed your account. This isn't a will service we recommend.
Most experts agree that your first priority is to decide between a Will and a Trust. Both will allow you to specify how you want your assets distributed upon your death, but they accomplish this in different ways. The biggest difference is that wills require your estate's distribution to be overseen by a court, known as probate; trusts, on the other hand, skip the probate process altogether and are handled privately. But, trusts can be more complicated to create and establish - transferring real estate and investment accounts into the ownership of the trust - and so it's perfectly acceptable to create a will first, then decide if you need to take the extra steps required for a trust.
Either way, it's a good idea to have a Power of Attorney and Advance Directive as part of your documents too. A Power of Attorney gives a person you specify the authority to act in your behalf: if you're incapacitated and you need someone to pay a bill, get information from a doctor, or make arrangements for your care, someone with Power of Attorney can do those things.
Advance Directives (often consisting of a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare) give you the ability to state what interventions you want (or don't) if you become unable to communicate. In other words, your will or trust details your wishes after you die, and a Power of Attorney and Advance Directive gives you say-so over what you prefer while you're alive.
Fortunately, creating a will doesn't have to be time-consuming, especially if you've already given some thought to your preferences. There are a number of services online that can help you draft your will within a matter of minutes and have it ready for printing, witnessing, and notarization. Which one is right for you? Here are some factors to consider:
To help you with your estate planning, TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the most popular will creation services available today. We're sure that this information will make it easy, affordable, and relatively hassle-free to get this important task checked off your to-do list.
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