A will — or last will and testament — is a legal document that provides instructions for what to do with somebody’s assets after they pass away. In addition to grieving, handling someone’s assets after they’re gone can be time consuming and unnecessarily stressful if there’s no will in place. To give your loved ones a bit of peace with settling your affairs, you should get a will.
“You want to do that because the loved ones you have will be grieving enough over the loss of you. You don’t want to leave a mess behind,” says money expert Clark Howard.
There are lots of great options online that are free or relatively inexpensive, which many people can use to make a will. But, an online will isn’t for everyone. This article will review some of the best free or cheap online will makers, important info regarding online wills, and who should or shouldn’t consider an online will. Keep reading for:
- Five Online Will Maker Options
- How To Make Your Will Legally Binding
- Common Myths About Wills Debunked
Five Online Will Maker Options
When reviewing online will makers, we looked for options that were:
- free or cheap,
- easy to navigate, and
- quick to complete
Here are five companies with will-making services that meet the criteria above:
1. Fabric by Gerber Life
- Price: Free
- Time commitment: 5 minutes
Fabric by Gerber Life specializes in life insurance policies, which are underwritten by Western & Southern Life Assurance Company. The company markets as a family-oriented brand and says, “Fabric is where parents come to start their family’s financial life.”
And while they’re well-known for their association with Gerber, you don’t need one of their life insurance policies to use their will-making services. The Fabric will-maker is available to anyone with no gimmicks, no need to sign up for service, and no required software or app downloads to get started.
All you need to do is click the “Create a Free Will” button on the Fabric digital wills page here. Or you can go straight to the Fabric by Gerber Life will-maker questionnaire to determine if a will is right for you. The quiz shows eight statements (ex: I have kids under 18, I have life insurance through work, etc.). You’ll select all the statements that apply to you, then you can immediately start you will. Their form is easy to navigate, but don’t be surprised if it takes more than their estimated five minutes to fill everything out.
- Price: Free
- Time commitment: 20 minutes
If charitable giving is part of your estate planning, you might want to consider FreeWill. The public benefit corporation works with more than 1,400 nonprofit organizations, who pay FreeWill a fee to ensure that their will-making service is free to whoever wants to use it.
In turn, it’s easy for anyone making a will to, “choose to leave a gift to a cause they care about.” FreeWill reports that more than 937,000 wills have been created. And their business model has resulted in more than $9 billion committed to nonprofit organizations.
It’s easy to get started. FreeWill uses a simple form to build your will, which guides you through the eight-step process. And the company says it takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
- Price: Starts at $89
- Time commitment: 15 minutes
LegalZoom offers several options for completing a will online, but none of them are free. Their basic last will starts at $89. But, this is a stripped-down product because it doesn’t come with access to a lawyer, which is typically one of LegalZoom’s selling points. Clark says:
“LegalZoom is a well-known, longstanding company. With their will product, you’re not getting anything substantially different than you would with the others, unless you have the level where you’re able to have the will reviewed by a lawyer…[but] at that kind of price point, I’m not very excited.”
So how much does it cost to get real eyes on your will? Their estate planning bundle starts at $249 and includes a last will, living will, financial power of attorney, and a year of attorney support. But Clark warns that this is a lot of money when you might not know the qualifications of the attorney reviewing your will or just how much personalized service you get.
According to their site, the year of attorney support is provided as phone consultations with a representative from a firm. But the fine print on LegalZoom notes that you’re, “limited to one consultation for each new legal matter” and consultations are, “up to one half (1/2) hour each.”
Also — if you go this route — you should also keep an eye out and ask about any future charges for the service after your year is up. The site notes that, “Benefits to the Legal Assist Plan continue automatically for $199 per year. You can cancel online or by calling.”
When it comes to how long it takes to make your will with LegalZoom, the company reports that 70% of people who’ve completed the questionnaire did so in less than 15 minutes. Only 9% of people took more than 30 minutes to complete the basic online will.
4. Quicken WillMaker
- Price: Starts at $99
- Time commitment: Not specified
If you want access to a robust suite of legal forms, Quicken WillMaker & Trust might be for you. But this company works on an annual subscription model, with a few different options. For $99, you can get the Starter membership that gives you access to forms for wills, health care directives and final arrangements. Clark says:
“WillMaker is one that I have liked forever, and the good thing about WillMaker is: Nolo has specials on WillMaker at various times of the year to try to encourage people to purchase. It’s really a well-respected, time-tested and easy-to-use product.”
A couple of money-saving offers popped up for me recently while browsing their site, including 10% off for joining their email list.
The next step up above the Starter membership is their Plus membership, which costs $139. This gets you access to their documents to create letters to survivors, a living trust, name a durable power of attorney, and transfer on a death deed. It also comes with the forms included with a Starter membership.
Finally, their All Access membership costs $209 and includes everything found in the Plus and Starter memberships. But you’ll also get access to additional smaller forms — like temporary guardianship authorization and limited power of attorney — and you can use their digital storage vault through Everplans.
And remember that each of the memberships is based on an annual subscription. If you choose not to renew your subscription, you can still access your documents forever. But you won’t be able to make any changes through Quicken WillMaker.
5. Trust and Will
- Price: Starts at $199
- Time commitment: Not specified
Trust and Will is another relatively cheap option for you to create your will online. Pricing starts at $199 for an individual or $299 for couples. But after your initial fee, you might have to pay an annual rate to maintain your benefits. The company says that the first year of membership is included with their Will-Based Estate Plan and it costs $19 for each year thereafter.
If you choose Trust and Will, you’ll have access to a few extra documents in addition to a last will and testament. You’ll get access to the HIPAA authorization form, which lets you authorize someone to get your protected health information if you choose. And you’ll get access to their living will and power of attorney documents.
The company also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. So, if you’re not happy with their documents or the functionality of their will maker, you can request a refund.
Finally, if you have a Haven Life Plus policy, you can use Trust and Will for free! Haven Life sells term life insurance policies, which happen to be Clark’s preferred type of insurance policy for people with financial dependents.
How To Make Your Will Legally Binding
Once you’ve completed an online will, you’ll most likely need to take a few more steps to finalize things. That’s because — as of July 2023 — electronic wills are only recognized as legally binding in 14 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
There are five steps you need to take to validate a will that’s made online. These steps include:
- Find two disinterested witnesses — or people who are not beneficiaries (such as co-workers) — to be present as you sign a printed copy of your will. These witnesses are meant to verify that you’re of sound mind and no one is pressuring you or influencing your actions.
- Sign your will and have your witnesses sign your will in accordance with your state laws. For example, some states require you to sign each separate page of your will.
- Consider including an Affidavit of Attesting Witnesses. While recommended, this step isn’t necessary. But if you do this, you’ll need to use a notary public.
- Store your will in a safe place.
- Contact your executor and at least one other party and tell them where your will is stored.
If you live in any of the following places, you don’t need to go through the process above:
- North Dakota
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Washington, D.C.
Each of these places may have slightly different requirements for validating online wills. To learn more, you can click on each state above to read their electronic will requirements. As more and more business gets conducted online, additional states may update their laws to recognize online wills too.
Common Myths About Wills Debunked
If you don’t have a will yet, you’re not alone. Only 32% of Americans have a will — which is the lowest rate since 2020 — according to Caring.com’s 2024 Wills and Estate Planning Study.
The study found that 40% of adults without a will say it’s because they don’t have enough assets to need one. And if you have few assets or no children, then you might be fine without a will. But in any other situation, a will is necessary.
Let’s look at a few common misconceptions people have about making wills, which prevent them from getting started.
Myth #1: I Don’t Need a Will.
Maybe you don’t have much in the way of assets, so you think you don’t need a will. But if you have children or you’re married, then there are benefits to having a will in place.
Let’s start with why you need a will if you have kids. It’s difficult to think about but consider this: If something were to happen to you, the state would decide who raises your kids if you don’t have a will in place. Of course, if you share custody or you’re married, then the other living parent would typically get custody. But if you’re the sole custodian or something happens to both parents, then having a will allows you to name personal and/or financial guardians.
What if you’re married, but don’t have any kids? Well, without a will, the state decides how to allocate your money or any other assets if something were to happen to you. How they do this depends on the state. But it can be time consuming, involve freezing your assets, and require part of your estate to go towards paying probate fees.
And if you have a partner but you’re not married — even if you live together — your partner might not be considered to inherit any part of your estate at all.
Myth #2: My Spouse Will Automatically Get Everything I Have.
A common misconception amongst married people is that — without a will — the surviving spouse will automatically get everything the other person leaves behind.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. What your spouse gets will depend on what state you live in and the type of assets you leave behind. Intestate is the term used to describe someone who dies without a will. And every state has laws in interstate succession laws in place to determine how your property gets passed on.
Let’s consider Clark’s home state. According to Nolo, here’s the simplified version of how intestacy works in Georgia:
“In Georgia, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living descendants—children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If you don’t, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate property. If you do, they and your spouse will share your intestate property equally, except that your spouse’s share cannot be less than 1/3. (Ga. Code § 53-2-1 (2023).)”
Again, though, every state is different. You can read more about interstate succession laws for every state here.
Myth #3: A Will Is Too Important for Anyone Except a Lawyer to Do.
We all have different lives, so there’s no one-size-fits-all way to go about making your will. If your assets and family situation are more complex, then making your will online won’t work well for you. Clark says:
“If somebody’s got any kind of complicated situation, they need a lawyer who specializes in wills, estates and trusts. And not a will program. If you have a blended family, if you own your own business, or you have a lot of assets, or if you’re worried that — at the time of your death — things would be contentious among your kids or whoever your heirs are, you hire a lawyer to do your will.”
For everyone else, online will-making services can be very effective. These tools ask the right questions to guide you through the will-completion process. And if you’re still unsure after trying one, you can always take your self-prepared will to a lawyer for review. It’s much cheaper to have a lawyer review what you’ve prepared than it is to have them work with you on a will from scratch.
Myth #4: A Will Is Too Expensive and Takes Too Much Time.
Hopefully, we already busted this myth for you! As you can see from our list of five companies to consider when self-preparing your will, it doesn’t have to cost you much time or money to get your estate in order. There are lots of free or relatively inexpensive options to get started. And electronic will-making services have simplified the process for you, so you can finish in 30 minutes or less.
For many people, the idea of a will can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be expensive, costly or painful! You can use an online will-making service that’ll only cost you a few minutes of your time.
Or, if you want a bit more support and extra documents, you can find upgraded packages from many of the companies on our list. Just be cautious about what benefits the extra money covers and the fine print. For example, you need to know how much access you’re getting to an attorney, what type of attorney you’ll be working with, or if you’re signing up for a subscription before you get hit with a surprise charge.