Most adults, especially parents, know how important a will is.
This one document can help determine who will raise your children in the event of your untimely death. Die without a will and the state determines who will raise your children. If your children are grown, a will keeps your estate out of probate and retains the inheritance for your inheritors, not the court fees probate generators. A will can also curb fights over who gets what; your wishes are clearly written in the will.
Even though we all know wills are important, “a staggering 65% of adults do not have wills.” When asked why, “a large number of people said that a will is too expensive and too complicated” (Mellert Law).
You may likely feel this way, too. However, there are plenty of ways you can create your will without spending a lot of money.
Consider the following ways to create a low-cost will:
LegalZoom will help you create a state-specific will for as little as $69. According to LegalZoom, nearly 70% of people who create their will at LegalZoom will finish it within 15 minutes. (I almost wish they didn’t include this statistic. I would like to think that determining who will raise your children and get your money and possessions would take more than 15 minutes!)
Some may wonder if wills created by LegalZoom are legit? Attorney at Law Tim Ferris states, “As far as estate planning documents go, they will likely be legal as long as they are signed with the proper formalities (witnesses, etc.)” (Lawguru.com)
Suze Orman’s Must Have Documents
Found on Suze Orman’s site for $29.95, this kit boosts over 50 legal forms you may need during your lifetime including a will, revocable trust, financial power of attorney, and durable power of attorney for health care.
Note: If you decide to create your will through Legal Zoom or Suze Orman’s Must Have Documents, you may want to hire a lawyer to look over the documents after they are complete to make sure everything is done correctly. Raina Combs, Attorney at Law, worries that “people who use LegalZoom and other do-it-yourself estate planning kits end up with a false sense of security. They create documents that they believe will address their estate planning needs. But with estate planning documents, they are unlikely to discover their mistakes” (Texas Wills and Trusts Online).
Wills on Wheels
Search the Internet for Wills on Wheels in your state, and you may find lawyers who are willing to come to your house to help you write your will. (They may even bring a notary public with them; you bring the witnesses to sign your will.) This service often gives preference to elders, but they all operate slightly differently, so you will need to contact your local Wills on Wheels representative.
Pro Bono Wills
Again, a search of the Internet may find lawyers near you who provide wills pro bono. I found an organization just a mile from our home that regularly helps first responders create their wills for free. Pro bono groups often favor the elderly, military members, teachers and emergency service providers.
Serving Our Seniors
The American Bar Association has implemented a program in 25 jurisdictions to help low-income seniors create their wills. Wills are especially important to seniors. Justin Heather, Chicago project chairman of Serving Our Seniors Foundation warns, “If someone doesn’t have a power of attorney and estate plan in place and gets dementia, a caretaker may have the authority to write checks. And that person could be taking the house from them” (AARP).
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking creating a will is too expensive or time consuming or that you do not have enough money to do so. There are a number of low-cost options available. Just remember if you do use a do-it-yourself kit like LegalZoom or Suze Orman’s to also have a lawyer double check to make sure that it is legitimate and will stand up in court.
If you are a senior citizen or in another special class such as military member or first responder, there are a number of free options available to you.