The best online will makers can help you to create a legally binding document. While many have used expensive lawyers in the past to create their last will and testament, 2020 is seeing a rapid rise in the use of will software to help millions of Americans get their estate planning done. They're an affordable alternative to using attorneys, and the result is the same, once you've created your will and had it witnessed by the appropriate people. All the software packages and services we recommend explain how to do the entire will-making process, from start to finish.
Choosing the best online will maker also gives you a level of control over your estate that you may feel uncomfortable requesting from your lawyer. After all, constant changes to a will always mean higher fees, as attorneys charge for every interaction you have with them (unless you're using a fixed-fee service). Will-making software and apps cut this out completely, and will save you $100s. The only thing you need to be careful about is accuracy, and making sure you're using a reliable and trustworthy program.
There are different types of will makers - software that lets you download a program and create as many copies of a will as you choose; and subscription-based sites that charge a monthly fee for the same service. There are pros and cons for both - sites tend to have better support, if you get stuck, but software is often a little cheaper and can be reused often. It's all down to what you decide you need. All will makers allow you to save your final versions to PDF, which can be easily printed off, signed, and witnessed to create a fully legally-binding will. If you're considering wills, you may also want to look at our guide to the best final expense insurance.
1. Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020: Best online will maker overall
Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2020 is the very latest version of the software, retailing at $89.99. For this, users get a comprehensive program that can help create legal paperwork for a wide range of situations. The will-making wizard helps users arrange their affairs and leave property and money to family, friends or charities. The program allows for multiple wills to be made for all family members, and additional roles like guardians and executors can be assigned and listed.
WillMaker & Trust 2020 also allows for legal paperwork to be prepared that will be of use while the user is still alive. This including creating a living trust, enacting a durable financial power of attorney and issuing 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 company has managed to install a good level of accessibility and intuitiveness in the software, and most users with regular living situations should be 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 is acceptable compared to employing a legal professional and it’s an impressive all-round product.
2. Law Depot: Best value online will maker
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.
- Read our Law Depot review
3. Legal Zoom: Best online will maker for ease of use
Easiest to use
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.
- Read our Legal Zoom review
4. Rocket Lawyer: Best online will maker document creation process
Best document creation process
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.
- Read our Rocket Lawyer review
5. Do Your Own Will: Best free online will maker
Best free solution
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.
- Read our Do Your Own Will review
6. U.S. Legal Wills: Best online will maker for expatriates
Best for expatriates
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.
- Read our U.S. Legal Wills review
7. Willing: Best online will maker for mobile users
Best for mobile users
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.
- Read our Willing review
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.