If the last few years have taught us anything, then firstly, it’s that there are precious few certainties in life anymore but also that death may decide to come calling for us sooner than any of us were perhaps expecting (oh, and also may be that we should wash our hands more often).
And Americans know this. The COVID-19 pandemic generated a lot of new, unexpected trends (TikTok anybody) including a surge in demand for will-making services. In this post, we’re gonna take a look at the rise of online will makers, how online will work and we will also pick our top 5 online will makers. Finally, we will also weigh up the pros of cons of making an online will vs lawyer made will.
If It Is Your Will
So what actually is a Will? A last will and testament (ie, A Will) is simply a recorded document in which an individual sets out their final wishes to be executed following their death. Wills are typically used to divide up the deceased person’s estate, including their home, personal possessions, and any savings they may have had, and dictate who gets what.
How Will Makers Work
Now let’s take a look at the ins and outs of just how willmakers work. Technically, any written and signed document may be accepted as a legally valid will. However, in order to ensure that all the relevant detail is captured, and to avoid any complications and contestations, it is common to engage the services of a WillMaker to help with the drafting and storing of a will.
Traditionally, will-making was undertaken by either an individual’s attorney or by a specialist estate planning lawyer. However, recent decades have seen the steady rise of Online Will Makers who are able to provide more or less the same service as a lawyer, at a mere fraction of the cost.
How Online Wills Work
Online will makers operate a pretty simple business model. They host a library of draft documents on their websites which users can access and download. Once downloaded, the user follows the template’s guidelines and enters the specifics of the will.
The completed will is then filed and stored digitally on the site’s central database. Of course, the individual is also free to keep a copy themselves or send one to a trusted friend or relative (presumably the one who will eventually be appointed as the administrator of the estate).
Top 5 WillMakers
There are now a lot of e-law and will-making services operating online. Choosing between them and identifying the best can therefore be overwhelming. Fortunately, though we have hand-picked the best online will makers that we have come across.
Nolo has risen up to become one of the biggest names in the online legal space and can offer far more than wills. Still, their estate planning service is top-notch as they offer a wide range of documents along with the assurances you get from dealing with a big name. However, please note that their documents are not valid in Louisiana or U.S. Territories
US Legal Wills
US legal wills are amongst the most cost-effective online willmakers on our rundown. They offer a 40% off a package for partners and spouses so if you both decide to make your wills’ at the same time, then this really is the wallet-friendly choice.
Rocket Lawyer operates a monthly subscription option that grants registered, paying users access to their full archive of legal docs. As such Rocket Lawyer is the ideal option for anybody who needs additional legal documents such as a tenancy agreement or LLC documents.
The appropriately named Do Your Own Will gives users all the tools they need to Do their own Will. The no-nonsense, no-frills site is free to use but as such, is nowhere near as comprehensive as the other sites mentioned. This one is suitable only for individuals with very simple estates and where there is no risk of warring relatives contesting.
As well as providing the draft documents you need to create your will online, Total Legal also offers discounted access to their Attorneys through their TotalLegal plan. As such, Total Legal is an excellent option for anybody who would feel that bit more comfortable speaking to a lawyer whilst drafting their will.
Online Will vs Lawyer – Pros and Cons
Understandably, some Americans may be reluctant to trust the concept of online will makers. After all, legal services are a complicated and sensitive matter which should be dealt with face to face by qualified, highway paid professionals right?
Well, not exactly. In all honesty, quite a lot of lawyers ‘ day-to-day work is fairly routine, standard fare not entirely worthy of that $200 per hour price tag. Will making and the notarization of documents, generally fall into that category. The fact is that most Americans have fairly uncomplicated lives and estates and as such, there will not deviate from a pretty standard template.
The only real exception is those who have big, high-value estates or complicated family lives where relatives are liable to fall out with each other and try to contest the will. Anybody who falls into these categories may well be better off paying the money and engaging a proper lawyer.
Final Thoughts About Online Willmakers
By this stage, you will hopefully understand how willmakers work, how online will work, and how to identify the best online will makers. Additionally you also now appreciate the difference in making an online will vs a lawyer.
Online willmakers are perfectly adequate, cost-effective options to deal with the estates and last wishes of most Americans. If you are still unsure about whether it’s right for you though, then check out the websites of our picks for the top 5 online willmakers and see what other customers have to say about them.