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Best online will makers 2020: Software for creating wills

Best online will maker 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best online will makers are the cost effective way of making sure your final wishes will be carried out as you intend once you’re gone. By allowing you to formalize your final will and testament in the comfort of your home, online will makers offer all the convenience that you could want. And as you can make use of the best online will maker whenever you want, there’s none of the time pressures that you might feel if you were to have an appointment with a lawyer - and will software is certainly the cheaper option of the two as well. 

The coronavirus pandemic has seen millions of Americans give thought to wills for the first time. And given the benefits that online will makers can bestow, it’s unsurprising that online will software has become an ever more popular estate planning option in 2020 too. If you’re uncertain where to begin, will makers usually come in two forms. On the one hand, you can pay upfront for online will software that you download, while on the other, you can subscribe to a will maker website and pay perhaps monthly or annually for access to the relevant estate planning options.

As a general point of reference, will software tends to be the less expensive option and better if you think you might want to amend your will going forward, while will making websites are often considered to offer the best guidance and support. Nevertheless, the very best online will makers can all be relied upon to deliver a process that is simple to follow and importantly will result in a legal will that cannot be held to dispute. For added peace of mind, be reassured that our choices as the best online will maker include only the most reliable and trusted will software. To potentially narrow your search further still, we’ve also selected an online will maker that stands out for how simple it is to use, and a separate choice that offers the best value. If you wish to tentatively explore online will making without spending anything, we’ve highlighted the free online will maker that we like the best as well. 

By making a will, you can help make a difficult time for loved ones just that little bit easier to negotiate. And if you’d like reassurance that those you leave behind will have no financial burden to bear once you’re gone, the best final expense insurance cover is definitely worth considering too. 

1. Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021: Best online will maker overall

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021

(Image credit: Nolo)

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021

Best overall

35+ estate planning documents
Clear and effective guidance
Ongoing legal updates
Not the cheapest

Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021 is the very latest version of this hugely popular software, retailing at $99.99. For this, users get a comprehensive program that can help create legal paperwork for a wide range of situations. Users receive straightforward yet effective guidance as they are directed towards the estate planning documents that suit their circumstances, including wills. 

The program also allows for multiple wills to be made for all family members, while additional roles like guardians and executors can be assigned and listed. However, Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2021 also allows for legal paperwork to be prepared that will be of use while the user is still alive, including living trusts, a durable financial power of attorney and healthcare directives. End-of-life documents such as plans for funerals and letters to family members or survivors to explain decisions, are also included in the package. 

The program is accessible and intuitive, and should see most users with regular living situations able to produce legal documents at home without any extra research or the need to pay for the services of an attorney. The price point might seem a little higher compared to some online will makers, but you're receiving a product that it is hard to fault, and one that is certainly cheaper than employing a legal professional.

2. Law Depot: Best value online will maker

Law Depot Review

(Image credit: Law Depot)

Law Depot

Best value

Annual plan is great value
Smooth, straightforward process 
Monthly plan is costly

Law Depot offers a small choice of pricing options including yearly or monthly subscriptions, a pay-per-document option, and a seven-day free trial. It’s free to create and explore their online document selection. The annual pre-paid subscription costs $7.99 per month and includes unlimited document creation and printing.

Law Depot is slightly different to some of the other will-preparation products on the market in that there’s no software to download. Users pay Law Depot a subscription to access the wizards that help with the document creation, and although users can create, save and download the documents that they create, they must keep up their subscription to retain access to them. 

The interface is very user-friendly, offering straightforward means of creating documents, and listing them in a very accessible way. The questioning process is smooth, without too many complications, and it should be a workable solution for most regular users creating a last will and testament, as well as any other end-of-life documents.

Legal Zoom Review

(Image credit: Legal Zoom)

Easiest to use

Impressive customer-support options
Straightforward, easy to use
More expensive than rivals

The Basic package retails at $89.99, and comes with the essentials to create a will, including a generous number of instructional guides that help explain the relevant provisions and statements, as well as worksheets to help the process along. 

Legal Zoom is one of the most user-friendly options out there for people looking to create their own last wills and testaments. Legal Zoom’s software is stored in the cloud, meaning users can access their account from any device with an internet connection, and there’s no software to install. Customers with the Comprehensive plan and the Estate Plan Bundle also get a free app for their mobile phones.

It’s one of the easiest and most straightforward software solutions that we reviewed, and the flexibility within the program (stored on the cloud for access anywhere) is impressive. The customer support was relatively good, and the attorney sessions included with the two more expensive options are a welcome addition to the basic program.

4. Rocket Lawyer: Best online will maker document creation process

Rocket Lawyer Review

(Image credit: Rocket Lawyer)

Rocket Lawyer

Best document creation process

Offers useful consultation services
Free help articles
Geared towards businesses
Expensive unless you subscribe

Rocket Lawyer’s product is simply a subscription to their services, available at $39.99 per month. The price includes preparation of a last will and testament, an Attorney Review service, questions answered via email by legal consultants, and 30-minute consultations with same legal consultants (just one question per consultation). The price also includes unlimited document revisions and copies. Cloud-based subscribers can download in Word, PDF, RTF and text formats.

One great feature of Rocket Lawyer is that there are sample wills available for perusing online, which will help users organise their own estates and give them ideas of things to include that they might not have thought of otherwise.

It’s possible to create a last will and testament for free using their seven-day free trial, and then pay for one month as a subscriber to get the full benefit of their support services. Their interface is incredibly user-friendly, and the flexibility in terms of revisions and different formats for the final document is among the best available. 

5. Do Your Own Will: Best free online will maker

Do Your Own Will Review

(Image credit: Do Your Own Will)

Do Your Own Will

Best free solution

Genuinely free service
Easy to use
No customer support offered
Only for simple situations

Many will-preparation software companies offer a free trial, but this does not typically result in a legally binding will for free. This is not the case with Do Your Own Will, and users can jump straight into preparing their own will without the need to offer up any credit card or banking details. As you proceed, advertisements appear on the screen and that is how the company generates revenue.

Creating a last will and testament with Do Your Own Will reality could not be easier. Three screens take you through some multiple-choice questions just to ascertain your general circumstances, and these are enough to create a legally binding last will and testament. When the process is finished, the will is available to instantly download in either .docx or .pdf format. The entire process takes around three minutes.

Do Your Own Will suits a very straightforward situation where all of a user’s estate is being left to one person (with space for some gifts to other parties), and there isn’t a complicated portfolio of shares or property to divvy out among several people.

U.S. Legal Wills Review

(Image credit: U.S. Legal Wills)

Best for expatriates

Lots of unique extra options
Sensible pricing plan
Slightly cluttered interface

U.S. Legal Wills offers a free way to create a document, but to download, there is a fee of $39.95. U.S. Legal Wills offers a wealth of documents pertaining to end-of-life wishes and estate administration. The basic document is their Last Will and Testament ($39.95) which creates a legally binding will via a wizard that uses a short series of questions. It is a perfectly reasonable solution for people with very straightforward circumstances, and all the information is stored securely online. Unlimited changes are included in the price, and it includes the documentation of private funeral wishes and messages to be passed on after the user’s death. 

The company can also arrange expatriate wills and wills for foreign users living in the United States, each of which are charged at $39.95, a competitive price for these documents.

U.S. Legal Wills offers a will-preparation process that’s as simple and user-friendly as that of any of its competitors. The process does take a couple of minutes longer, but only because the service includes a host of extra options that are not offered by many of its competitors.

7. Willing: Best online will maker for mobile users

Willing Review

(Image credit: Willing)


Best for mobile users

Quick, straightforward process
Mobile-optimised site
No legal support
Best for simple situations

Willing offers three products. By far the most popular is the Individual Last Will & Testament package at $69, which allows users to leave property to their family, plans for medical emergencies, and it includes basic versions of a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney. Unlimited changes are allowed for up to six months. 

The way the site for Willing is designed makes it a particularly good option for users accessing the process from a mobile phone, and it is one of the best designed sites for this scenario.

Any extras such as customer service are a little stripped back and there is no access to legal consultation, but if all that a user needs is a straightforward will that is leaving everything to one person, then Willing is a perfectly reasonable service and as noted, the design is particularly suited to being accessed on a mobile phone.

Why trust us? 

During the last eight years of reviewing legally binding will software, we found all the helpful and quirky features that make better programs stand out. Our recommendations are based on hands-on experience with these programs while we created hypothetical last wills and testaments. We noted of how easy the software platform was to navigate and which creation tools made that process more intuitive.

While you can hire an attorney to create your will for you, most charge a minimum of $50 per hour. This is quite costly, especially if you don't need an overly complicated will. We started testing and reviewing will software to find a more cost-effective alternative for anyone comfortable using a software platform.

How much does will software cost?

With will writing software, you can plan your estate for between $15 and $70, though the average product costs around $35. With legal consultation services, such as Rocket Lawyer, you either pay $40 per document or for a monthly subscription, a purchase recommended only if you require significant help with legal matters. Either way, when you consider the average estate lawyer charges between $100 and $500 per hour, will-writing software saves you considerable time and money.

Created Will documents

A last will and testament is only one of several important documents that you should create while planning your estate. Most of the programs we reviewed have the tools to help you create other legal documents, such as a health care directive, (or living will) schedule of assets and power of attorney. Caregiver and survivor instructions are synopses of your will and highlight additional final wishes that may not necessarily be included in a last will and testament. They usually include a notification letter that you can send out to those you've named as executors and caregivers for your children and pets so they’re aware of those responsibilities long before your death.

Help & support

Fortunately, each of the software solutions we reviewed is simple-to-use and navigate without reading instruction guides or getting in touch with support personnel. However, in case you do have any questions or concerns, it's nice to know you can connect with the right help. Most software developers don't have email or telephone support, relying instead on FAQs sections. Some programs come with legal support, either in the form of a legal reference guide or as a lawyer directory that lets you search for a real-life attorney in your area. Social media platforms are also a good way to get in touch with live tech support.

Common Mistakes in DIY Wills

You can save significantly by using a program to write your will – this type of software typically costs around $50, whereas you may pay up to $1,000 for a lawyer to help you write your will. If you strike out on your own and use a program, watch out for these common mistakes:

Naming an Executor: This is a difficult choice that can affect how your estate is closed. Don’t just pick someone close to you – choose an executor with some legal or financial acumen.

Listing every asset: You don’t have to account for everything you own when making a will. Possessions change over time, and you don’t want to have to update your will every time you buy something new. It's better to be general about possessions and designate specific items that may have emotional value.

Confusing a Will for something else: Wills are read after funerals, so instructions for your funeral should not be included in your will. Likewise, any instructions about what to do if you fall into a coma or are put on life support need to go in a living will, which is a separate legal document.

Forgetting Beneficiaries: One peril of using a will program is you can forget to name a residual beneficiary. This is the person who gets everything not explicitly named in your will. Take an inventory of the beneficiaries on your life insurance policies and 401(k)s, and make sure they match up with whoever you’ve designated on those accounts. If you want those proceeds to go to someone else, you need to update those accounts to match your will.

Doing it yourself when your estate Is too complicated: If you have a large or complicated estate, hiring a lawyer decreases the likelihood your will may be contested. You also want to hire a lawyer to help if you want to disinherit a spouse.