Quicken WillMaker - any users?

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lightheir
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Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by lightheir » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:20 pm

I think it's time my wife and myself started filling out those documents like last will, power of attorney, health care directive, etc.

I know lawyers are commonly recommended for these, but I've been taken aback at how expensive they are. I had a brief lawyer consult for a very basic will in the past, and he wanted $2500 minimum for it, even though it really did sound like we had no special circusmtances. (This also wasn't some high-flying lawyer - seemed like a smaller than average, not busy, semiretired guy.)

Given that we're only a young family so far (mid30s, one toddler), and are getting along great, I was hoping to use a lower-cost solution until we really get into situations complicated enough to warrant spending those thousands for lawyer fees.

- I was looking at Quicken Willmaker. I figured at the least, it would help familiarize me with the basics of what's involved, so I do end up going lawyer anyway, I'd not be totally clueless.

Anybody else use this successfully and confidently? I did a google search and a BH search, but really didn't find anything substantive and recent.

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BigFoot48
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by BigFoot48 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 6:49 pm

I've used it for years for our simple wills, but most recently to prepare durable power of attorney for finances, living wills, and health care power of attorney for ourselves and my wife's parents. If you have a relatively simple estate situation I think its the way to go.
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mrpotatoheadsays
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by mrpotatoheadsays » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:07 am

Do not use [poor quality --admin LadyGeek] software! Understand what you are doing! Read a legal book! Nolo has several.

I did my will/trust with Nolo. I bought my home without a real estate agent, but with Nolo.

Lawyers are crooks. He/she will want you to come back every year to refre$h the document.

SteveKL
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by SteveKL » Fri Aug 16, 2013 12:21 am

My wife and I used it to prepare our wills several years ago. Our estate is more complex than some, simpler than others. We found the process with Quicken to be straightforward, with "just enough" detail that we felt confident in the decisions we made throughout the process of creating our wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. We would probably have a more "bulletproof" set of documents had we gone with an attorney, and they are some estate taxation issues about which the software is unable to provide guidance, but overall we feel WAY better having our respective estates in some kind of order, compared to having no will at all.

We had a lawyer draft wills for us when we were in our early 20s, newly married, and our net worth was <$10K. Twenty-five years later, our estate is much larger and more complicated, but we have what we feel is a good layman's knowledge of estate planning, probate law, etc. and didn't mind the DIY approach. In another 5 or 10 years we will probably take our Quicken-made wills and other documents to an attorney, who can plug all the work we've already done into his/her own software and hopefully catch any legal gotchas that Quicken might have introduced.

Overall, I give Quicken Willmaker an A- for what it does, and an A+ for value pricing.

Disclaimer: I'm not dead yet, so cannot vouch for the postmortem efficacy of their product. :D

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BigFoot48
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by BigFoot48 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:09 am

It would be interesting if a family with a simple estate who used an attorney to prepare their estate documents would then use WillMaker and compare the results. I suspect the WillMaker documents would be very similar and perfectly fine. My own experience with my mother and father-in-law was that while they had wills in place, they were never used as neither estate entered into probate because all assets were held in joint-tenancy or had pay or transfer on death provisions. I set up my mother-in-laws assets the same way for inheriting by my wife, an only child, and don't expect her will (prepared by an attorney) will ever be needed.
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lightheir
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by lightheir » Fri Aug 16, 2013 4:17 am

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:Do not use [poor quality --admin LadyGeek] software! Understand what you are doing! Read a legal book! Nolo has several.

I did my will/trust with Nolo. I bought my home without a real estate agent, but with Nolo.

Lawyers are crooks. He/she will want you to come back every year to refre$h the document.
Ummm, Nolo WROTE the willmaker, I believe

http://www.nolo.com/products/quicken-wi ... s-wqp.html

Sidney
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by Sidney » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:08 am

mrpotatoheadsays wrote: Lawyers are crooks. He/she will want you to come back every year to refre$h the document.
A rather broad generalization -- and that hasn't been my experience. We have moderately complex wills with pour-over trusts. I get a call annually from the attorney to ask if anything major has change. So far, he has said that no changes needed and did not bill me. I send him a balance sheet every year so he knows what the valuation is in case it matters.

One think I liked about our setup is that he had a stenographer record our sessions to document our intentions. That way, if there were any questions later about interpretation of the document, there would be a record of our discussions.
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by Rupert » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:34 am

Lawyer here. Not a crook. Quicken Willmaker is just fine for drafting a simple will and advanced directive. I used it to do my own estate planning. But when you need something more complicated, e.g., trusts, etc., then you should see a lawyer. I think you should also see a lawyer if you think your estate will be large enough to trigger estate taxes.

How much lawyers charge for estate planning depends on where you are. I can't say whether $2500 is reasonable or not in your location. You should call several lawyers and compare rates, though, regardless of where you are. It is possible to shop around for professional services. It is also possible to negotiate.

There are good reasons why lawyers check in with you every few years to update your plans. Laws and circumstances change and, as a result, estate plans have to be changed. It really is not a good idea just to draft a will, stick it in the safe deposit box, and forget about it.
Last edited by Rupert on Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

Iorek
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by Iorek » Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:39 am

We used Quicken/Nolo willmaker when we had a small child, not that many assets, no special circumstances (special needs, blended family, etc.), and we decided it was more important to have a basic will in place than to take the time and money to have a lawyer write it up. I thought willmaker did a good job and I often recommend it to people in those circumstances. As it happens, a relative had a small town lawyer prepare a will around the same time and I thought the wills were pretty comparable (there were provisions in each that might have been slightly better than the other).

I think one reason to use a lawyer is if you want to do estate tax planning or complicated trusts (when we used willmaker we just decided to rely on UTMA, which meant our child would have inherited everything at 21 in our state). Another reason to use a lawyer is that a good lawyer will be much more thorough at asking "what if" questions (such as, would your choice of guardian change if the guardian-to-be got divorced?), but it's hard to know how beneficial that extra level of personalized attention will be, especially if you plan to revisit the will in a few years.

Last, I don't think it's necessarily either/or. I think even if you go to a lawyer you should buy willmaker because the book is very informative and you'll be better off for understanding the issues before you visit a lawyer. And even if you use willmaker for the will, you might decide in a few years that it's worth going to a lawyer (which is what we did).

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lightheir
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by lightheir » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:26 am

Thanks for the input everyone.

I've decided that I will purchase the WillMaker, if only just to educate myself as to the very basics of the whole process as I know very little about it.

Since our family is still young, and I don't have any complicated situations as of now, I'll most likely use the willmaker for awhile.

If I get to the point where I need a lawyer, I'd like to at least know that I'm paying for thousands for a basic service that's so simple that it's covered in something like Willmaker. I'm ok with paying money for good professional help for true problems requiring that level of expertise. I'm not ok with paying money for top-level help if in reality my situation is so basic that the lawyer needs minimal work and still will charge in effect a full fee.

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BigFoot48
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by BigFoot48 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:36 am

A good and rational decision lightheir! It's a very good program to have and use and learn from.
Last edited by BigFoot48 on Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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desertbandit442
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by desertbandit442 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:55 am

lightheir wrote:I think it's time my wife and myself started filling out those documents like last will, power of attorney, health care directive, etc.

I know lawyers are commonly recommended for these, but I've been taken aback at how expensive they are. I had a brief lawyer consult for a very basic will in the past, and he wanted $2500 minimum for it, even though it really did sound like we had no special circusmtances. (This also wasn't some high-flying lawyer - seemed like a smaller than average, not busy, semiretired guy.)

Given that we're only a young family so far (mid30s, one toddler), and are getting along great, I was hoping to use a lower-cost solution until we really get into situations complicated enough to warrant spending those thousands for lawyer fees.

- I was looking at Quicken Willmaker. I figured at the least, it would help familiarize me with the basics of what's involved, so I do end up going lawyer anyway, I'd not be totally clueless.

Anybody else use this successfully and confidently? I did a google search and a BH search, but really didn't find anything substantive and recent.
Willmaker should be fine for a straight forward will. I would search around more for a lawyer when you have to go that route. I had an Estate Attorney do my will and it had some extra issues, because of a blended family. I was charged $150 for the will--Not all lawyers are crooks.

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BolderBoy
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by BolderBoy » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:03 pm

Rupert wrote:Lawyer here. Not a crook. Quicken Willmaker is just fine for drafting a simple will and advanced directive. I used it to do my own estate planning. But when you need something more complicated, e.g., trusts, etc., then you should see a lawyer. I think you should also see a lawyer if you think your estate will be large enough to trigger estate taxes.

How much lawyers charge for estate planning depends on where you are. I can't say whether $2500 is reasonable or not in your location. You should call several lawyers and compare rates, though, regardless of where you are. It is possible to shop around for professional services. It is also possible to negotiate.

There are good reasons why lawyers check in with you every few years to update your plans. Laws and circumstances change and, as a result, estate plans have to be changed. It really is not a good idea just to draft a will, stick it in the safe deposit box, and forget about it.
Looks like good advice here (I'm not a lawyer but might be a crook :happy )

To the OP, make sure the Wills you create are "self-proving". My father's 1988 Will was not and I found myself visiting nursing homes to get signatures from the original witnesses who fortunately hadn't yet died. I used his Will (done by a lawyer) as a template to update my mother's will and included the self-proving verbage. Another lawyer later referred to mom's new Will as "homemade".

Snort.

chaz
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by chaz » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:12 pm

I like www.legalzoom.com

good luck.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

PinotGris
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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by PinotGris » Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:35 am

my husband and i are, as i write this, right now in the process of doing our document with the Quicken Willmaker. it is excellent. the book comes with a disc, very easy to install and work with. it is an interview process and on the right side panel it has some very good information and advice on how to proceed with that particular aspect. the book has more detailed information, but really the disc alone is excellent source. i borrowed the 2015 version from our local library which allows us to load the application into 3 devices. almost all our assets now have a Pay on Death or Transfer on Death if they are not jointly held. our children are adults, in stable situation, we have no property outside the state, no business, no prior marriages. so it is relatively simple.

we are in the midst of deciding whether we need an irrevocable trust or not. our net worth situation warrants it, as we live in MA. we are updating all these documents with the Willmaker as a placeholder until we come to an agreement over this. of course the will is not going to do what the irrevocable trust will, which is protection from taxes.

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by Traveller » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:28 pm

chabil wrote:we are in the midst of deciding whether we need an irrevocable trust or not. our net worth situation warrants it, as we live in MA. we are updating all these documents with the Willmaker as a placeholder until we come to an agreement over this. of course the will is not going to do what the irrevocable trust will, which is protection from taxes.
I just ordered WillMaker 2015 and noticed that it includes a license for Nolo's online trust maker as well. Has anyone used that? We had a attorney draft our will maybe 15 years ago and haven't updated it since. I plan on using WillMaker to draft the update and am anxious to compare to our original. Our original included a trust, but we have been lazy in making sure assets are titled in the trust, so I want to take a hard look at if we really need one or not.

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by gd » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:04 pm

I tried to use it maybe 5-6 years ago. As I recall (somewhat dimly), when I tried to deviate from its formula it actively defeated me. There's an argument for this-- the point is legally sound text, and letting people customize makes that impossible. But this was something I thought was reasonable, and I think I was even trying to mimic a local lawyer's earlier work in dividing up leftover estate. Conclusion-- might be ok for very routine stuff, not for anything else. It's an interview process and document generator for the same stuff you'll get in how-to books (like Nolo probably sells, cheaper).

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by hicabob » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:42 pm

I was looking into getting my estate planning in order too. My plan is to "do it myself" for a first try and the learning experience then try and find a competent lawyer when I am more knowledgeable about the matter.

This generic plain talk will from the CA Bar Association seems like a nice document to start with.

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/docu ... l-Form.pdf

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by gd » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:29 am

The above plain talk will raises an interesting point I had with Willmaker vs. local lawyer. The language used by both was quite different, both using obtuse legal wording for the most straightforward points, with (struggling to remember accurately here) the local lawyer being worse. It occurred to me that the local lawyer might have some state-specific magic incantations, but more likely it's a matter of both him and Willmaker keeping things scary, impenetrable, and therefore requiring for-fee assistance. Any lawyers care to comment?

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by Iorek » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:32 am

gd wrote:The above plain talk will raises an interesting point I had with Willmaker vs. local lawyer. The language used by both was quite different, both using obtuse legal wording for the most straightforward points, with (struggling to remember accurately here) the local lawyer being worse. It occurred to me that the local lawyer might have some state-specific magic incantations, but more likely it's a matter of both him and Willmaker keeping things scary, impenetrable, and therefore requiring for-fee assistance. Any lawyers care to comment?

Willmaker has no interest in keeping things scary or impenetrable. The whole mission of Nolo is to empower ordinary people to deal with legal issues. However, there are phrases, sentences, even paragraphs that have proven to do the job correctly and without ambiguity. Chances are the "straightforward" points you'd like to make have proven in the past not to be straightforward at all.

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by PinotGris » Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:51 pm

gd wrote:I tried to use it maybe 5-6 years ago. As I recall (somewhat dimly), when I tried to deviate from its formula it actively defeated me. There's an argument for this-- the point is legally sound text, and letting people customize makes that impossible. But this was something I thought was reasonable, and I think I was even trying to mimic a local lawyer's earlier work in dividing up leftover estate. Conclusion-- might be ok for very routine stuff, not for anything else. It's an interview process and document generator for the same stuff you'll get in how-to books (like Nolo probably sells, cheaper).
the program worked very well for us but we hit a snag. it does not provide any solution for a situation when the will maker (testator?) is the only survivor (say in a freak accident) and only the grandchildren are left. it does not allow me to say in that case we leave everything to the grandchildren, in equal share. i suppose this will be looked upon as generation skipping device. but we were puzzled what would happen to our estate at that point and did not want it to go to some other claimant. so we typed up the whole document and inserted the clause. it was only 4 pages so it was not a big deal although it took bit of effort to get all the format done right. a better typist may find it no problem.

all the other documents such as the affidavit etc are fine. it was worth it to go through the exercise.

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by gd » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:55 am

Iorek wrote: Willmaker has no interest in keeping things scary or impenetrable. The whole mission of Nolo is to empower ordinary people to deal with legal issues. However, there are phrases, sentences, even paragraphs that have proven to do the job correctly and without ambiguity. Chances are the "straightforward" points you'd like to make have proven in the past not to be straightforward at all.
This got me curious and I went back and dug up my final version (modified WillMaker). I think I recalled it incorrectly-- I no longer have the original WillMaker text, but my modified version is much simpler than the local lawyer, although still lapsed into occasional flowery text. So my question should probably be-- is there any reason for the local lawyer's difficult version when compared to CA Plain Text or WillMaker saying essentially the same stuff, or is he trying to obfuscate?

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by flyingbison » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:19 am

chabil wrote:
.... it does not provide any solution for a situation when the will maker (testator?) is the only survivor (say in a freak accident) and only the grandchildren are left ...
If the will-maker is the only survivor, then s/he is still alive and the will isn't used in that situation. :confused

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by PinotGris » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:23 pm

flyingbison wrote:
chabil wrote:
.... it does not provide any solution for a situation when the will maker (testator?) is the only survivor (say in a freak accident) and only the grandchildren are left ...
If the will-maker is the only survivor, then s/he is still alive and the will isn't used in that situation. :confused
Correct. It is meant to express his will when he/she is no longer alive. May be i don't understand your question, sorry.

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Re: Quicken WillMaker - any users?

Post by flyingbison » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:12 am

chabil wrote:
flyingbison wrote:
chabil wrote:
.... it does not provide any solution for a situation when the will maker (testator?) is the only survivor (say in a freak accident) and only the grandchildren are left ...
If the will-maker is the only survivor, then s/he is still alive and the will isn't used in that situation. :confused
Correct. It is meant to express his will when he/she is no longer alive. May be i don't understand your question, sorry.
No will can "provide a solution" for any situation in which the will-maker is still living. So I don't understand your comment above: " it does not provide any solution for a situation when the will maker (testator?) is the only survivor"

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