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COVID-19 Update: With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many seniors are struggling with loneliness and isolation. We’ve developed a list of products that caregivers or seniors can purchase to help older adults stay happy, healthy and connected, whether they are aging in place at home or in an assisted living community.

A will is an essential document for anyone who wishes to dictate how their possessions should be handled once they are gone. Despite this importance, Caring.com’s 2020 Estate Planning and Wills Study found that only 47.9% of those 55 and older have a will or another form of an estate plan. People delay making a will for a variety of reasons, including simply not getting around to it, believing that their assets are too small to merit creating a will, being confused by the process, or being deterred by the cost.

Not having a will means that your possessions will be distributed according to state laws that may not reflect your true wishes or unique family situation. Also, while all estates must be processed through special courts called probate courts, without a will your estate may remain in court longer than would otherwise be necessary. This is true even of relatively small estates. 

Creating a will may sound like an intimidating process, but it’s much easier than most people realize. Over the past two decades, new companies have begun offering will creation services online, charging customers far less than a lawyer would while still providing legally valid documents. Seniors now have more access to user-friendly, inexpensive resources for creating a will than ever before.

If you’re interested in creating an online will but you aren’t sure how to evaluate the many companies that are available, this guide can help you. In it, you’ll find our list of the best online will creation services of 2021. You’ll also find a helpful Buyer’s Guide that will walk you through the steps of the shopping process. 

How We Chose the Best Online Will Services

Educational Materials 

We only chose to review online will services that offer free educational material about estate planning. A company that takes time to explain the unfamiliar concepts and terms associated with wills is signaling that it cares about its customer’s needs. Having some kind of educational articles online- whether they’re called a blog, a help center, a learning center, or something else-  proves invaluable for most customers.

Transparency

When using an online service, it’s important to know how the company you’re using profits. With many free services available, customers may sometimes be concerned that ulterior motives, like unethical data collection, are at play. Due to these concerns, we made sure to only include companies on our list that clearly state how they make a profit. It’s important that companies clarify their business model, whether they’re profiting from advertising or charging fees for services.

Honest Sales Tactics

We were careful to select companies that make sensible, conservative claims about their own products. We looked for companies that were upfront about the fact that their services aren’t necessarily for everyone. Most of these websites say explicitly that they are not law firms and that some people do need to see a lawyer, particularly if their estates are complicated in some way. This honesty about their legal status is important. 

The 9 Best Online Will Services of 2021


Payment Structure


Discounts or Trials


Costs*


Revisions Available


Refunds Offered


Freewill 


No fees


N/A


$0


Anytime


N/A


Willing


Flat fee 


Groupon deals


$69+


Anytime


None


Do Your Own Will


No fees


N/A


$0


Anytime


N/A


Tomorrow


-No fee for will creation
-Optional membership 


NA


$0-$40


Anytime


None**


US Legal Wills


-Flat fee
-Optional membership


40% off for spouses


$40-$165 


Anytime


30-day money-back guarantee


Rocket Lawyer


-Flat fee 
-Optional membership


Free trial (1 week)


$0-$40 


Anytime


Yes


LegalZoom


-Flat fee
-Optional membership


Occasional discount codes online


$89+


Anytime


At company’s discretion 


Trust & Will


-Flat fee
-Optional membership 


$9 discount for couples


$69-$81


For 1+ year


Yes, within the first 30 days


Nolo


Flat fee


Occasional discount codes online


$60-$90


For one year


At company’s discretion 


*All costs are rounded to the nearest dollar
**Apple may issue an app refund in limited cases. 

Freewill

Best for Planned Charitable Contributions

Freewill, a free online will creation website, was founded in 2016. Co-CEOs Jenny Xia and Patrick Schmitt, both Stanford University alumni, have focused on making their website as intuitive as possible for customers. Over 277,000 wills have been created through Freewill since the company began. Freewill remains relatively small with about 90 employees in its Silicon Valley headquarters. 

Freewill was initially created with the unique goal of connecting people with charities via legacy giving, that is, planned posthumous gifts. Currently the company has professional relationships with over 250 different charities. Through the creation of Freewill documents, seniors and others have promised over $2.6 billion to a variety of good causes. Freewill doesn’t require its users to make donations, but it makes donating easy and helps many nonprofit organizations. Freewill is a great service for those who are thinking about making a donation through their will.  

Freewill Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


No fees


Discounts or Trials


N/A


Costs


$0


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


N/A


The Pros and Cons of Freewill Services

  • No Cost: Freewill is able to provide all of its services at no cost to those making the wills since it gets paid by the charitable organizations that it works with. For seniors who need the most economical option available, this service provides high-quality documents with no gimmicks or hidden fees.
  • Positive Reviews: Freewill has received quite a bit of positive attention in the press, with mentions in Forbes, the New York Times, and other prestigious publications.  Customer reviews are also frequently favorable, with customers mentioning how positive their experiences with Freewill’s customer service have been. 
  • Three Options: Freewill offers more than just a last will and testament. It also offers advanced healthcare directives and financial power of attorney documents, two documents that most people should also have. These documents allow others to take care of a senior’s health and finances according to their wishes in cases where the senior is incapacitated. Getting all three of these documents started is very convenient with Freewill.

Cons 

  • Editing Issues: Wills are fully editable with Freewill, but navigating the program that allows edits may be difficult for those who aren’t accustomed to using computers for complex tasks. Freewill updates its programs regularly, so improvements may be coming in the future. In the meantime, Freewill’s customer service representatives are happy to help with technical questions. 

Willing

Best Discounts

Willing was founded in 2014 by Eliam Medina and Robert Dyson. These co-founders, who together have extensive experience in software development and executive positions, originally founded the parent company Bequest, Inc., then developed Willing.com as a subsidiary. Based in Miami, Florida, Willing began quite small but has recently been acquired by the large life insurance company Metlife. 

Willing is notable for its frequently-available discounts. Although its regular prices fall in the mid- to high-end range when compared to other companies, consumers can usually find deals that will reduce the cost by as much as 85%. Willing frequently partners with another tech company, Groupon, to offer these deals. Customers who are able to do a little extra searching for these discounts will often be able to use Willing at a very competitive cost. 

Willing Online Will Creation Services 

Payment Structure


Flat fee 


Discounts or Trials


Various Groupon deals


Costs


$69


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


None


The Pros and Cons of Willing Services 

Pros

  • Simple Design: Willing offers a very clean website design that’s appealing to many people who have used it. The website background incorporates large amounts of white space, giving the site an uncluttered look that doesn’t strain the eyes. Furthermore, although Willing does not offer an app at this time, it does have a website that’s optimized for use on smartphone screens. Seniors who are familiar with the latest technology may find this company a great choice.
  • Extra Document Options: While Willing isn’t a full-service legal document company, it does offer a few extra items beyond the typical last will and testament. Seniors who pay for a will also have access to optional documents including a living will, a revocable living trust, durable power of attorney, and a transfer on death deed. These are all provided at no additional cost.

Cons

  • Limited Details: Overall, this company provides fewer specifics on how its service works than one might expect. Many companies offer demo documents, a detailed step-by-step explanation of their services, and a highly informative FAQ or terms of service section that’s easy to find online. Available information about Willing is less detailed. Signing up and beginning the will-making process is the easiest way to learn about Willing, and that makes comparing it to other services difficult. 
  • High Cost: Printing and signing your will from Willing will cost you a flat, one-time fee of $69 at the time of printing unless you have a Groupon deal or another discount code. This cost isn’t the highest on our list, but it’s on the higher end. Many other companies offer 100% free wills or wills that are about $20. The flat fee does include multiple documents, however. 
  • Limited Options: According to some critics, Willing’s provides very limited options for leaving money to minors in a sensible way. Most people with minors don’t like the idea of their entire inheritance being accessible to them at age 18, but providing for a more gradual release of funds with this online service may be difficult. In situations where grandparents are raising grandchildren, this could be an issue.

Do Your Own Will (DYOW)

Best Free Option

Do Your Own Will (DYOW) traces its roots back to 1999. The website grew out of its parent company Trail Data, Inc. which entrepreneurs Brent Pope and Joseph Moglia founded in Seattle, Washington. Do Your Own Will is on a mission to give Americans easy access to not only wills but also to other crucial estate and end-of-life planning documents. Currently, the company has helped over nine million people create more than 15 million documents. 

Do Your Own Wills provides 100% of its services free to users. Many other companies claim to offer similar free services but ultimately still charge fees for printing, revision privileges, or for some other reason that is not immediately obvious. This company stands apart from many others on our list because it keeps everything truly free and because it offers its services in a very simple, easy-to-use format. 

DYOW Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


No fees


Discounts or Trials


N/A


Costs


$0


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


NA


The Pros and Cons of Do Your Own Will Services (DYOW)

Pros 

  • Full Preview of Process: Many online shoppers don’t like to begin any process until they know what’s ahead of them. That’s not a problem with DYOW since the website provides a full, detailed preview of the 8 steps of creating a will with its program. This preview can really help you get a sense of whether or not the document it produces will suit you. You can find a link to the preview in the website’s FAQ section.  
  • Final Arrangements: The will you create on DYOW includes an optional section for recording your wishes for final arrangements. You can make your wishes known concerning things like the form of burial and the form of service that you want. You may not be able to list extremely detailed wishes, but this is a convenient way to record something basic. 
  • Clear Policies: This company is one of the easiest to understand. Its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section answers many practical questions that seniors may have, including the question of how the company makes money when its services are free. DYOW clearly states that it profits from partnering with other businesses like the insurance companies that it promotes. 
  • Free Updates: You do not have to create an account to make a will with DYOW, but if you do it’s free and will give you the option of making easy revisions in the future. It’s sensible to keep an account if you choose to use DYOW since wills should be routinely reviewed and updated whenever circumstances, assets, or relationships change in significant ways.

Cons 

  • Limited Customer Support: Since DYOW is free, its focus isn’t on providing customer support. This is more of a “take it or leave it” service than some of the other companies on our list, including some of the free ones. 
  • Advertisements: As you create your will on this site, you’ll be shown many advertisements for related services such as law offices and life insurance companies. You’ll never be obligated to buy anything advertised to you, but these advertisements may try your patience. 

Tomorrow

Best Rated App-Based Service

Tomorrow, a will creation and financial planning app hailing from Seattle, Washington, was founded by Dave Hanley, Erik Berg, and Joshua Heckathorn. The company grew naturally from Hanley’s difficult experiences with navigating the legal system after his parents passed away. Inspired to make estate planning easier for other families by providing better tools, Tomorrow’s co-founders built it in 2016 as an app that could help families coordinate and explore their options. 

Tomorrow is accessible through normal web browsers but is especially easy to use in its mobile application (app) form. For seniors who are very comfortable with using smartphones, the Tomorrow app offers great convenience and portability for the will-creation process. Available on both the Apple Store and Google Play, the app has been reviewed over four thousand times and scores much better with users than other leading legal document apps.

Tomorrow Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


-No fee for will itself
-Optional membership


Discounts or Trials


N/A


Costs


$0-$40


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


None*


*Apple may issue an app refund in limited cases.

The Pros and Cons of Tomorrow Services

Pros

  • Wide Availability: Since it’s offered in Apple and Google Play app stores as well as in a desktop version, this free app is widely available and easy to access. Moreover, you can explore its functions in-depth before creating an account, unlike some other will-creation services. Tomorrow really gives customers options in how they access the service.
  • Affordable Options: Tomorrow does not charge seniors to make wills or to store and update them. Therefore, it’s entirely possible to use the app and get a will without spending anything. However, users can also upgrade to the Tomorrow Plus membership for only $40 a year, which equals less than $3.50 a month, or about half the cost of many similar monthly memberships. Tomorrow Plus includes the ability to create a trust and the ability to sync your will with a partner’s will, among other perks.

Cons

  • Limited Refunds: Tomorrow’s terms of service regarding refunds are extremely vague, and it’s unlikely that most users will be able to get any refund if they become unhappy with the service. The risk is low since the cost for a whole year is only $40 or $0, depending on which services you opt to use. However, Tomorrow’s lack of a refund policy may disappoint some.  
  • In-App Advertising: In addition to charging for the extra features included in memberships, Tomorrow brings in revenue through advertising. This means that as you create your will you’ll be given some tailored suggestions about life insurance policies and other forms of insurance. Some users may find these advertisements disruptive, especially considering they may already be paying for a membership.
  • Broken Links: Seniors who are looking for details on what Tomorrow has to offer may be dismayed to find that some links on the website are broken. We encountered three different non-functional links within the website during our research. The Tomorrow mobile app is the primary focus of the company and operates more smoothly than the web version does. 

US Legal Wills

Best Rated Web-Based Service

Tim Hewson and Henry Raud co-founded US Legal Wills in 2000 as a subsidiary of their company PartingWishes Inc. Together, Hewson and Raud had extensive education and experience in technology and business management, and they quickly combined that experience with the expertise of advising lawyers. Making legal documents that are affordable and easy to use has always been the company’s goal. Over the past twenty years, US Legal Wills has grown to serve seniors in not only the United States but also in the U.K. and Canada.

US Legal Wills routinely receives extremely positive ratings online, and it currently has four-star or better ratings across major review sites and social platforms. Seniors looking for a site with a well-established reputation will be happy to know that customer reviews on Facebook (4.9/5), Google (5/5), and the Better Business Bureau (5/5) are overwhelmingly positive, with customers frequently praising the simplicity and affordability of the service.

US Legal Wills Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


-Flat fee 
-Optional membership


Discounts or Trials


40% off for spouses


Costs


$40-$165+ 


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


30-day money-back guarantee


The Pros and Cons of US Legal Wills Services

Pros

  • No Automatic Charges: This company has a membership option that allows for the storage and revision of your legal documents. However, it does not automatically charge you for anything, ever. If you want a membership, you specifically have to opt-in and it will be for a set amount of time, without automatic renewal. Many other companies work on an opt-out model, making it easy to accidentally get charged for something you didn’t want in the first place. A company that doesn’t automatically charge you is a refreshing alternative.
  • Planned Stability: US Legal Wills has been around about 20 years, and it plans to stick around much longer than that. However, even if the company itself were to go out of business, it has a plan in place for digitally maintaining all member accounts into the future. The funds it currently has set aside for this can pay for the hosting of member accounts for 25 years, and the company intends to continue funding this account to guarantee its survival even longer. US Legal Wills considers its customer’s needs so important that it maintains a fund just for the possibility of its own failure.  
  • Gift Cards: It’s possible to give a gift card to cover the cost of US Legal Will services. If your parents or other loved ones have asked you to help them find an online will service to use and you decide that this company is their best option, a gift card can be a nice way to give this important service as a gift. 
  • Partner Discounts: When you create one will through US Legal Wills, upon completing your transaction and will creation you’ll be given a discount code for a spouse or partner’s will. This discount is for 40% off of their purchase, dropping the price of the second will to just $24. This is an extremely competitive cost. 

Cons

  • Complex Revision Policy: Understanding how revisions work with this company is a bit confusing at times. In order to make revisions, customers must pay to have their will stored online. Lifelong online storage costs $125, whereas two years of storage costs $12 and one year is totally free. The midrange option of 25 years of storage, which may be enough for many seniors, costs $75. 

Rocket Lawyer

Best Free Trial

Charley Moore founded Rocket Lawyer in 2008 in San Francisco. His mission was to make legal processes far more controllable and affordable for the average American. Rocket Lawyer has already outstripped many of its older competitors, becoming one of the most recognized brands in the online document creation market. The company has now expanded to reach customers in the United Kingdom as well. Ben Nye, formerly CEO of another prominent online company, LinkedIn, now serves as CEO of Rocket Lawyer. 

Rocket Lawyer stands out among the paid services on our list because it offers a generous free trial. With Rocket Lawyer, you can take a full week to create your will, refine it, and decide if it’s right for you. You can also have your will completely free if you print it before the trial ends and then cancel the trial. Many people are happy enough with their membership to continue paying for the service when the free trial ends, however. Rocket Lawyer’s seven-day free trial enables customers to choose what’s right for them. 

Overview of Rocket Lawyer Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


-Flat fee 
-Optional membership


Discounts or Trials


Free trial (1 week)


Costs


$0-$40 


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


Yes


The Pros and Cons of Rocket Lawyer Services

Pros:

  • App Option: Rocket Lawyer is one of the few will-creation websites that also has an app. This app offers essentially the same features as the website in a form that’s extremely convenient for those who don’t have easy access to a computer or who prefer to use a phone. 
  • Pricing choices: At Rocket Lawyer, you purchase individual documents for a flat fee of $40 each, or you can sign up for a membership that has a $40 a monthly fee. If you opt for the membership, you’ll be able to revise your documents an unlimited number of times. 
  • “Ask a Lawyer”: Rocket Lawyer is a much more “full service” will creation option than many of the other companies on our list. Rocket Lawyer itself is not a law firm, but it does connect its users with lawyers when requested. There’s an “ask a lawyer” component to the membership that allows you to connect with a lawyer via a 600 character question box. For more complex questions, you can also get a steep discount on a longer legal consultation.   
  • Refund Policy: Many web-based will creation services are noncommittal about their refund policies. Rocket Lawyer, however, states its policy in refreshingly simple terms. If you get a membership and are unhappy with it, Rocket Lawyer is willing to give refunds on a prorated basis, refunding for the days that are left in your membership that you don’t want to use. 

Cons:

  • Automatic Payments: If you opt for a membership with Rocket Lawyer, then you’ll have payments for the service automatically taken from your credit card or bank account. This is true if you use the free trial as well, so forgetting to cancel the free trial will result in an automatic payment being withdrawn. Many people just don’t like the idea of automated, recurring payments that they may forget about.

LegalZoom

Most Extra Services

Entrepreneurs Brian Lee, Brian P. Y. Liu, and Edward Hartman joined forces with attorney Robert Shapiro to launch LegalZoom’s website in 2001. Since that time, LegalZoom has helped over 4 million people with their legal issues by providing document creation forms. Its customer base now extends across the United States and into the United Kingdom. Currently led by CEO Dan Wernikoff, LegalZoom continues to redefine and expand the average consumer’s options for getting legal help.

LegalZoom stands out due to the extremely wide array of services it offers to consumers. Seniors who need to create a will for themselves may often also need some expert advice or a variety of other documents for their business or personal life. LegalZoom has it all on one website. For the customer who wants options, LegalZoom can be a very convenient choice.

Overview of LegalZoom Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


-Flat fee
-Optional membership


Discounts or Trials


Occasional discount codes online


Costs


$89+


Revisions Available


Anytime


Refunds Offered


At company’s discretion 


Pros and Cons of LegalZoom Services

Pros

  • App Access: LegalZoom offers a free app that can be used on iPhones or iPads. Its user-friendly format is a great option for experienced Apple users who want to work on their wills while on the go. The app is routinely updated for increased effectiveness. Unfortunately, this app is not offered for other operating systems.
  • Attorney Directory: LegalZoom places a premium on getting customers in touch with lawyers in a cost-effective way. In the U.K., LegalZoom has officially become a law firm, and in the U.S. it is not a law firm but it partners with law firms. If you’re seeking legal advice you can choose from a variety of subscription-style prepaid legal plans that will give you access to lawyers for less than you’d pay if you just walked into the nearest law firm. 
  • Multiple Packages: This company offers three distinct packages that allow you to create a last will and testament. Seniors can choose between Basic Last Will, Comprehensive Last Will, and the Estate Plan Bundle. Those who want some legal advice can choose the Comprehensive Last Will for two weeks of attorney consultations, and those who want attorney advice plus the ability to create a living will and a financial power of attorney will benefit from the Estate Plan Bundle.

Cons

  • High Costs: A will alone costs $89 at LegalZoom, and springing for a bigger product bundle costs between $99-$179. Moreover, the more expensive bundles have auto-renewal features that will cost between about $15 monthly and or $120 dollars annually (depending on the plan) if not properly canceled ahead of the designated renewal dates. Fees from this company are higher than average. 
  • Limited Revisions: Some companies host documents indefinitely, allowing customers to revise and reprint the same purchase as long as they live. However, the longest that you can make revisions on a LegalZoom will is for one year, and that’s only for the most expensive will packages. 

Trust & Will

Best Refund Policy

Trust & Will started with the simple idea that estate planning programs should be as accessible as tax filing programs are. Founders Cody Barbo and Daniel Goldstein got their company off the ground when Bardo won funding in the John G. Watson Quick Pitch Competition of 2017. Since that time, this San Diego startup has served tens of thousands of customers who need wills, trusts, guardianship plans, and other crucial documents.

Trust & Will sets itself apart thanks to its clear, consumer-friendly refund policy. Since documents cannot be “returned” in any real sense, companies like this cannot recoup costs when they give a refund. Many companies simply don’t give refunds at all, while others have very strict policies. We found Trust & Will’s refund policy to be one of the most simply worded as well as the most generous. If you’re not 100% satisfied with your purchase, Trust & Will offers refunds within the first 30 days of purchase.

Overview of Trust & Will Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


-Flat fee
-Optional membership 


Discounts or Trials


$9 discount for couples


Costs


$69-$81


Revisions Available


For 1+ year


Refunds Offered


Yes, within the first 30 days


The Pros and Cons of Trust & Will Services

Pros

  • Multiple Discounts: It’s easy to find discounts on Trust & Will products. If you and your spouse purchase a will together, one spouse will have $9 knocked off the cost automatically. If you’re willing to do some searching, you may also find other discounts that are based on affiliate relationships the company has with other brands. For example, if you use the money management app Acorns, you may be able to get a rebate. The Trust & Will Twitter account is a great place to find information on affiliate discounts.
  • Printed Will: Most online will creation companies expect the consumer to print their own documents. Trust & Will provides the unusual perk of offering printed documents shipped to your door. You still have the option of printing the will for yourself as well. 
  • Customer Service: When you explore the Trust & Will website, you may notice that a chat box pops up on the side or bottom of your screen. Trust & Will includes this convenient messaging option where you can get clarification on anything you need to know about the services offered. The customer service representatives who will answer your chat questions are always based in the U.S., too.
  • Great Value: While the starting cost of $69 for a will may seem a bit high, the reality is this cost also includes a HIPPA release form, a living will, and a power of attorney. This ultimately translates to less than $18 per document. However, seniors should note that generic forms of some of these documents may be available via their state government’s website.

Cons

  • Confusing Fees: Trust & Will gives one free year of access and revision capabilities for its wills, but after that you must pay $12 per year to keep revising them. The specifics of this subscription fee are somewhat difficult to find, though they are available on the website. Some users may at first assume that there’s no subscription fee. This lack of clarity on parts of the website can be frustrating, though the fee itself is not high. 

Nolo

Best for Industry Experience

Nolo began as a publishing company, producing “self-help law” books in an era before online services were a part of daily life for everyone. Founded by Jake Warner and Toni Ihara, both San Francisco lawyers, Nolo initially focused on things like educating tenants on their rights and helping people divorce affordably. Since that time, the company has expanded its scope to include online estate planning, among many other services. 

With a history reaching all the way back to 1971, Nolo is by far the most experienced source for online legal help that we have seen. Throughout its long company history, Nolo has demonstrated its care for its customers and its dedication to keeping up with the times by offering innovative legal solutions. Seniors who are looking for a company that has a well-established reputation will enjoy using Nolos programs. 

Overview of Nolo Online Will Creation Services

Payment Structure


Flat fee


Discounts or Trials


Occasional discount codes online


Costs


$60-$90


Revisions Available


For one year


Refunds Offered


At company’s discretion 


Pros and Cons of Nolo Services

Pros

  • Multiple Uses: The online will that Nolo offers can be used to create an unlimited number of wills for one year. If you and multiple family members are all in need of your own wills, this can be a very cost-effective option. The online program is $60, so splitting it between four or more people instantly reduces your per-person cost to well below the costs of other competitors. 
  • Excellent Product Listings:  Nolo’s website is designed to be particularly helpful. Individual products on the website feature a question and answer section that addresses some of the most common concerns that customers have. It’s nice to have answers so available rather than having to search for an FAQ section, though a full FAQ section is also available.   
  • Educational Materials: All of the websites on our list include educational articles of some kind, but Nolo’s educational section is particularly large. There are 24 different article categories on the website, all free. Nolo also provides a legal news section, a legal dictionary, and a variety of tools for making financial calculations.

Cons

  • High Costs: Nolo offers a few different price points for will creation, but none are particularly low. The lowest cost that Nolo offers is specifically for use by Louisiana residents, and this online form costs about $35. The main online will (for everyone other than Louisiana residents) costs $60, and the alternative option of downloadable software called “Willmaker and Trust 2020” costs $90. 

Buyer’s Guide 

Buyer’s Guide

The following steps will help you ask the right questions and compare the services offered by different online will companies. These steps do not constitute legal advice; they merely provide general information for consumers.

Step 1: Check for Legal Trouble Spots

Making your own will online is a promising, cost-effective possibility, but it’s wise to screen your situation for potential legal problems before proceeding. The first step to considering an online will is accepting it has limitations.

You May Want to Avoid an Online Will If You Have:

  • A special needs or minor dependent
  • An intention to disinherit someone 
  • A complicated or contentious family
  • Large or complex assets that will be subject to estate tax  
  • A business that you’d like to pass down
  • Residency in the state of Louisiana 
  • A suspicion that someone you know will try to contest your will’s validity

For a variety of reasons, the above situations present legal challenges and opportunities to make mistakes that could be costly for your intended heirs (losing them either time or a portion of the estate). Online software may or may not be able to adequately address all of the potential issues involved. If one of the above applies to you but you’d like to proceed with an online will, you’ll want to conduct in-depth research on how to avoid legal problems that could arise when you’re gone. However, If none of the above are the case for you, then it’s likely that an online will can meet your needs fairly easily. 

Step 2: Compare the Capabilities of Several Online Will Services

If you only look at one or two websites, you may miss the possibilities that are available. Likewise, if you only evaluate companies on one criterion, you may not get the full picture.  Compare the following aspects of three or more companies before comparing the overall costs of these companies. 

Four Parts of Online Will Creation Services to Compare:

  1. Revision Policies: Is there a way to revise your will in the future that’s provided with this service? For how long can you revise it? Alternatively, will you need to create an entirely new will if you need to alter something? Most seniors need to make revisions over the years as their circumstances change. Consider whether you’d prefer to make a new document or change an existing one. 
  2. Refund Policies: If you’re looking at companies that are not free, find out if they have a refund policy. Long-term refund policies are uncommon, but some companies offer refunds within the first 30 days of your purchase. Make sure you know how likely you are (or aren’t) to be able to get money back if you become unhappy with the document you have created. 
  3. Sample Documents: Most companies provide sample documents that show the basic wording of their wills. While you probably aren’t a lawyer, you can definitely get some sense of the quality of a document by reading the sample provided. Beware of sites that offer documents that are obviously flawed on a grammatical level. If possible, open sample documents up side by side to see the difference between them. 
  4. Bonus Features: Most companies offer something that’s a little extra, whether it’s other legal documents (power of attorney is a common one), a contract that allows you to consult with attorneys as needed, or the option of having the company print the document and ship it to you. Consider whether any of these extra features are important to you. Look carefully at the fine print to find any limitations, especially concerning attorney consultations. 

Step 3: Compare Costs Among Several Companies 

Once you’ve compared features and discover a few different options that could work for you, it’s time to further narrow your search by comparing costs. An online will can cost anything from $0 to over $100. Below we detail the variety of fees that you could be charged. 

Potential Costs of Online Wills:

  • Document Creation Fee: Some companies offer wills 100% free because they profit through advertising. Other companies allow you to create the document for free, only charging if you actually print it. This allows you to test the service before committing to a purchase. Still other companies charge you a flat fee upfront that includes all costs related to the creation of the document. 
  • Online Storage and Revisions: Occasionally companies offer free lifetime storage and unlimited revisions and reprints of the document that you create. However, it’s more common that they charge fees for online storage and revisions. Monthly or annual fees are most common, but some companies also offer fees for a specific number of years, such as 25, or even for the lifetime of the will’s creator. The range of monthly fees that we have seen is approximately $3-$40. Lifetime access fees are a rare option but can be less than $150.  
  • Attorney Consultations: Some online will creation platforms partner with legal firms to provide legal advice as opposed to just document creation software. If the option of calling or emailing a lawyer is offered by the company, the cost may be covered by the same membership fee that also covers document storage. Read the terms of service carefully. 

Step 4: Read Reviews for Clues to Company Performance 

In the era of internet shopping it’s become common for customers to leave online reviews for businesses that they’ve interacted with in the past. These reviews can be a valuable tool for comparing the company’s advertising claims to its actual performance. 

Where to Find Reviews

You’ll probably be able to see at least a few reviews on the company’s own website, but you’ll want to look at other review sites as well. All of the review sites below use a 1-5 star rating system and allow customers to leave notes. They all also allow the company to respond to reviews publicly. Many companies only have an active profile on one or two of these websites.

Check for Company Profiles on the Following Websites: 

  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB): This is one of the oldest review sites on the internet. Note that the BBB gives companies a letter grade (A+, for example) based on its own metrics, which are separate from the customers’ star ratings.  
  • Trustpilot: Trustpilot is a review site that allows anyone to post reviews, and it also helps companies to reach out to current and former customers to ask for reviews. On Trustpilot’s own website you can see all reviews, but note that if you see a Trustpilot box embedded in another website it may only be showing positive reviews. 
  • Google Business Profiles: Sometimes when you type a business name into Google’s search engine, a profile of the business that includes contact information and reviews will appear in a box on the right side of your screen. If this profile does not immediately appear, you may more easily find it by including the city name or the street address of the company’s headquarters.
  • Facebook: Some businesses allow customers to leave 1-5 star ratings on their Facebook profile. If a business has a Facebook page but does not have a star rating, that likely means that the business has deactivated that feature on its profile. 

How to Evaluate Customer Reviews Critically

Most review sites attempt to find and delete fraudulent reviews. You’ll occasionally see reviews that may have been created by computer “bots” or by people who are paid to lie or exaggerate, negatively or positively. Rather than taking every review at face value, look for trends. Read company responses when they are provided to gauge how the company handles criticism. Whenever possible, try to compare the claims that a customer is making to the product description, and disregard comments that demonstrate the customer clearly didn’t understand the product. If you do find a piece of negative feedback that is really concerning to you, you may wish to call the company for clarification on policy, pricing, or whatever issue is at hand. In some cases, a more detailed internet search could confirm or disprove the customer’s claim as well.

Step 5: Create, Sign, and Communicate About Your Will 

Once you’ve made your final selection based on company features, cost, and any considerations that reading reviews brought up, it’s time to make your will. The will creation website that you select should guide you with questions and legal options. However, it’s usually a good idea to also look up legal rules specific to your state as well. Most companies provide relevant educational materials for free.

Before you begin, keep in mind that if you’re making wills as a couple, you’ll be creating two “mirror” wills that echo and confirm one another’s’ wishes. Joint wills are usually not advised or offered by online services since they can lead to potential legal problems.

Signing and Making the Will Legally Binding

Once you’ve created and printed your will, follow the steps to make it legal in your state. This can vary somewhat, but in many places this means signing it in the presence of two witnesses. Many people also have their will notarized, though this is often not technically required. The software you use should give you guidance on the signing process, but if the guidance lacks specificity you’ll want to look up the law in your state. 

Sharing Information on Your Will

Different families talk about their wills in different ways, but at a minimum you’ll want to make sure that a few people in your family know where to find it when you are gone. Many online programs even facilitate this process by making suggestions for communication, but you ultimately need to decide what’s best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Are online will services owned by law firms?

Websites that let you create your own will are not usually law firms, though there may be some exceptions. Oftentimes these will-creation websites are founded by lawyers or have lawyers on the company board, but the website itself does not meet the legal requirements required to call itself a law firm. There is no lawyer-client relationship or privileges implied in any of your dealings with the company in most cases. Some sites will offer to connect you with a lawyer, but the company itself should not be mistaken for a law firm.

Is my personal information safe online?

Creating a will online is typically no riskier than shopping online with your credit or debit card. However, you should watch out for scams that may be trying to take your personal information. Because of this possibility, you should always make sure that a website has been reviewed by reputable third parties to verify that it’s legitimate. Even if a company is legitimate, there’s a small chance that it could be hacked, like all websites. Most companies take precautions to prevent this, but it may be something to ask about if you’re concerned. Reputable companies will use encryption to safeguard your information.

What happens if my will contradicts other contracts and documents I have created?

Your will does not necessarily take precedence over other contracts or legal documents that you have created. For example, it’s likely that you have named beneficiaries for your life insurance policies already. If so, your life insurance company will be obligated to pay whomever you named in the policy, regardless of what the will says. In general, you should make sure all of your legal documents align with one another to reduce the possibility of legal problems when you are gone.

How easily can I update my online will in the future?

How easy it is to update your will online depends upon the company that you initially choose to use. Most companies provide a login option that lets you update and print new copies. For a few companies, this updating feature is completely free and does not expire. However, some companies limit the time period during which you can do this. Some also offer to extend that time period for updating if you pay extra for a membership/subscription. The fee charged for this could be a recurring monthly or annual fee, or it could be for a one-time fee for a set number of years or even a lifetime.

Do online wills include a section on funeral arrangements?

Some online wills include a section for you to state your final wishes regarding burial, funeral services, and the like. However, this is not technically required to be part of a will, so some companies do not offer it, and some charge extra for it. If the company you’re considering does not offer a section on funeral arrangements, you may be able to get the necessary paperwork elsewhere quite easily.