With rising funeral costs and steep estate taxes, dying has become a seriously expensive pursuit and that’s before we even get around to probate and other legal costs! The good news however is that at least making a will need not be as expensive as it used to be thanks to the rise of e-legal services and online will makers. In this post will take a closer look at this trend as well as provide reviews of Nolo, Rocket and eForms; 3 of the top online will makers.
What Is a Will?
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that sets out an individual’s last wishes to be executed following the event of their death. Will’s are commonly used by individuals to set out who inherits their worldly possessions from property, to savings, to collectible baseball cards. That said, Will’s can also be used to leave ‘farewell’ messages to loved ones or to provide instructions for burial or the scattering of ashes.
As you can imagine, it is vitally important to get a Will right as the person making the Will will not be around to answer additional questions or provide clarity after their demise. For this reason, it is common to engage an estate planning lawyer when drafting a Will.
Costs Of Making a Will Using a Lawyer
The costs of making a Will can vary wildly depending on a number of factors. Whereas a simple will can cost between $150 – $300, a more complicated one for high net worth individuals will usually exceed $1k. Furthermore, any revisions or amendments will incur further charges and most lawyers charge additional fees for drafting other death/or incapacity related documents such as power of attorneys.
In the case of individuals with particularly complex financial and personal lives, the costs could potentially run into tens of thousands of dollars.
Using an Online Will Maker Instead
With costs of living spiralling, many Americans simply cannot afford or spare $300 – $1000 to make a Will. Unfortunately failure to make one can mean dying ‘intestate’ which means that the deceased’s estate will be dealt with by the states laws and can sometimes result in expensive and protracted legal complications for loved ones.
However, Americans who cannot afford the services of a traditional estate lawyer can instead look into using online will makers instead.
Online Will makers have grown in popularity over the last decade and have begun eating into the monopoly once held by estate lawyers. There are a number of different online will makers offering their services and while they are all different, they generally offer downloadable Will templates along with guidance for completing them. Some providers simply provide the documents whereas others also offer advisory services and allow clients to speak with a legally qualified representative if they feel the need to.
Online Will makers are now permitted in all American states and have long proven their legitimacy and effectiveness.
Some of The Best Online Will Makers To Use
A quick Google search will verify that there are now a lot of different online will makers out there. As such, telling the good ones from the questionable ones can prove rather challenging. Let’s take a brief look at some of the more reputable online will makers.
Nolo began life in 1971 as a book publisher of DIY legal manuals; its first publication was the groundbreaking albeit controversial How to Do Your Own Divorce in California. They are now established as one of the largest online legal service providers in the US with a document library nearing 1000. Their online will maker kits start at $79.
Rocket Lawyer Review
San Francisco based Rocket Lawyer is the #1 rated online legal services provider in the USA according to the onlinewillmakers.com comparison site.
Rocket Lawyer now offers their users more than 1000 legal documents ranging from property tenancy agreements to instructions on setting up LLC’s. Rocket Lawyer users can either access the full Rocket Lawyer library by paying a $40 per month subscription or alternatively can buy documents individually.
Formed in 2015, eForms professes itself to be the number one legal service database in the US and does attract some 2.8 million users each month. Like Rocket Lawyer they offer a monthly subscription plan of $39.99 per month although unlike Rocket Lawyer, they do not offer the extras such as attorney access.
The Power of Online Will Makers
In summary, the ascent of online wills is fast acting to democratise the legal and intestacy services market. While there will always be a place for traditional will makers, the online will makers and e-law database providers are helping many more Americans than ever before ensure that their last wishes are properly recorded.