Has anyone used software to write a Will?

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BogleDan
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Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by BogleDan » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am

Hi all,
A recent death in the family has made me want to get serious about writing a will to provide for my family and kids. I'm in my mid-30s, so hopefully it won't be needed for a while (!), but if something tragic happened to both my wife and I, for instance, I'd want to have preparations made for the children.

I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. Has anybody had a good experience with any of the programs out there?

Thanks!

beardsworth
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by beardsworth » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:27 am

That search box at the top of the forum page can be your friend. These were some Bogleheads forum results from a simple search combining the terms software and will.

https://www.google.com/search?sitesearc ... tware+will

aristotelian
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by aristotelian » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:33 am

Better than having no will.

WyomingFIRE
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by WyomingFIRE » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:41 am

BogleDan wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am
Hi all,
A recent death in the family has made me want to get serious about writing a will to provide for my family and kids. I'm in my mid-30s, so hopefully it won't be needed for a while (!), but if something tragic happened to both my wife and I, for instance, I'd want to have preparations made for the children.

I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. Has anybody had a good experience with any of the programs out there?

Thanks!
I would hire a lawyer from the beginning, even for the simplest of situations. I wouldn't trust any software package, even if it existed, to be nuanced, up to date, and compliant with my state's current laws. Plus, by the time you purchased the software and learned how to use it, you likely will not have saved much if anything over starting with a lawyer from the get go. And If you take a homespun will to a lawyer, they are likely going to want to rewrite the entire thing anyway. (Note: A lawyer may actually be under a professional duty to effectively rewrite the entire thing because, at the end of the day, they are legally liable for the outcome; at least they are at risk for malpractice. I'm be wary of any lawyer that said: "Sure, I'd be happy to skim it for you.")

Depending on your situation, you may also need or want a power of attorney, health directive and related personal estate planning documents. A will is a good start, but it generally isn't enough, particularly since you have a family. Having a reputable local lawyer draft all of these documents in light of one's personal situation in compliance with the current law of a jurisdiction shouldn't cost all that much. We recently moved from one state to another, and most of our legal documents had to be rewritten -- and it didn't cost all that much.

There are times in life when it pays to hire professional assistance. DIY applies to plumbing, redoing roofs and painting; it doesn't apply to one's legal matters, in my view. And I would hold that opinion even if the person were a lawyer, as we know what they say about a lawyer who represents herself or himself ....
Last edited by WyomingFIRE on Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

tibbitts
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:46 am

WyomingFIRE wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:41 am
There are times in life when it pays to hire professional assistance. DIY applies to plumbing, redoing roofs and painting; it doesn't apply to one's legal matters, in my view. And I would hold that opinion even if the person were a lawyer, as we know what they say about a lawyer who represents herself or himself ....
I disagree that you're less likely to end up with a disaster if you do roofing or plumbing yourself vs. making a will. You may mean that for you personally that would be the case, but I would say not for the population in general. The only difference is that you will may recognize the roofing or plumbing disaster while you're still alive - and can correct it (or hire someone to correct it.)
Last edited by tibbitts on Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

tibbitts
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by tibbitts » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:54 am

BogleDan wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am
Hi all,
A recent death in the family has made me want to get serious about writing a will to provide for my family and kids. I'm in my mid-30s, so hopefully it won't be needed for a while (!), but if something tragic happened to both my wife and I, for instance, I'd want to have preparations made for the children.

I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. Has anybody had a good experience with any of the programs out there?

Thanks!
I made a will myself with Willmaker, but I don't have children. They make the will somewhat more complicated in that the will would typically have to create a trust. I don't have children and might have gone a different route in that case.

I don't agree with having a lawyer to review what you did. It can be okay if you want to do it as an exercise and compare the results, but although I'm not an attorney, I'd guess most attorneys would take more time to review what you did than to start from scratch. So just have the attorney start from scratch and then compare results and ask questions if appropriate.

c1over8
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by c1over8 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:07 pm

BogleDan wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am
I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. [Emphasis Added]

If you can even find an estate attorney willing to review your DIY will, it will probably cost just as much as having them draft the will.
aristotelian wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:33 am
Better than having no will.
Not if it contains ambiguous provisions and requires a court order to settle the ambiguities. But, OP will be dead and will never know if this happens so he or she will still think he or she got a good deal.

stan1
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by stan1 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:24 pm

Some people have simple needs. My mom is 85. She has credit union CDs, a taxable investing account, and an an IRA with POD and beneficiaries set up properly. Her net worth is about $250K. She does not own a home or a car or even anything of value to anyone other than her. Her two sons are her only heirs. I used Legal Zoom with no regrets. They have an attorney review it as part of the fee.

I would not recommend this for someone with millions of dollars and minor children. Or people with a history of family squabbles. Or if you are disinheriting a child. Or if you have children your spouse doesn't know about. You get the idea.
Last edited by stan1 on Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TravelforFun
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by TravelforFun » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:34 pm

I use a software for our wills and I update them annually. 90% our assets is in 401K, IRAs, and Roth IRAs and will be distributed to the beneficiaries we've specified so the wills are only there to address our home and personal items. Our situation is not complicated enough to use a lawyer.

TravelforFun

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GerryL
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by GerryL » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:31 pm

TravelforFun wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:34 pm
I use a software for our wills and I update them annually. 90% our assets is in 401K, IRAs, and Roth IRAs and will be distributed to the beneficiaries we've specified so the wills are only there to address our home and personal items. Our situation is not complicated enough to use a lawyer.

TravelforFun
My will is very simple and more than 75% of my assets are in IRAs, so I have relied on Willmaker. When I get to the point of having to identify agents to help me manage through cognitive decline, I will call on the services of lawyers. In fact, I plan to start sketching out that plan in the coming year.

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willthrill81
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:44 pm

We used Willmaker when our daughter was born, but we will need to make some updates to it next year. I plan on just having an attorney do it for us. The software was a bit of a hassle, and we'd feel better having someone experienced in our state put everything together.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

JGoneRiding
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by JGoneRiding » Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:04 pm

I wanted a very simple will to cover what happens if struck by a bus on the way home from the hospital with our infant and he was only survivor.

I used rocket lawyer. Layout appears identical to what I have seen from legal zoom.

I would NOT do a software and then pay a lawyer to review. Just pay a lawyer if you are going to do that.

Nate79
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by Nate79 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:11 am

We used Willmaker when our baby was born. We will use a lawyer to write new ones in near future but it was fine to at least have something in place.

carolinaman
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by carolinaman » Mon Oct 08, 2018 8:21 am

WyomingFIRE wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:41 am
BogleDan wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am
Hi all,
A recent death in the family has made me want to get serious about writing a will to provide for my family and kids. I'm in my mid-30s, so hopefully it won't be needed for a while (!), but if something tragic happened to both my wife and I, for instance, I'd want to have preparations made for the children.

I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. Has anybody had a good experience with any of the programs out there?

Thanks!
I would hire a lawyer from the beginning, even for the simplest of situations. I wouldn't trust any software package, even if it existed, to be nuanced, up to date, and compliant with my state's current laws. Plus, by the time you purchased the software and learned how to use it, you likely will not have saved much if anything over starting with a lawyer from the get go. And If you take a homespun will to a lawyer, they are likely going to want to rewrite the entire thing anyway. (Note: A lawyer may actually be under a professional duty to effectively rewrite the entire thing because, at the end of the day, they are legally liable for the outcome; at least they are at risk for malpractice. I'm be wary of any lawyer that said: "Sure, I'd be happy to skim it for you.")

Depending on your situation, you may also need or want a power of attorney, health directive and related personal estate planning documents. A will is a good start, but it generally isn't enough, particularly since you have a family. Having a reputable local lawyer draft all of these documents in light of one's personal situation in compliance with the current law of a jurisdiction shouldn't cost all that much. We recently moved from one state to another, and most of our legal documents had to be rewritten -- and it didn't cost all that much.

There are times in life when it pays to hire professional assistance. DIY applies to plumbing, redoing roofs and painting; it doesn't apply to one's legal matters, in my view. And I would hold that opinion even if the person were a lawyer, as we know what they say about a lawyer who represents herself or himself ....
+1. Well stated. As a classic DIYer, I totally agree. One other thing. DIY estate documents such as wills and POAs are often not accepted by others whereas the same documents by attorneys are much more readily accepted.

Onion
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by Onion » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:35 am

Nate79 wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:11 am
We used Willmaker when our baby was born. We will use a lawyer to write new ones in near future but it was fine to at least have something in place.
This is the same for us.

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lthenderson
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Re: Has anyone used software to write a Will?

Post by lthenderson » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:07 pm

BogleDan wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 11:19 am
I'd love to find some software to help me through the process, with the intention of having a lawyer review it once it is mostly complete. Has anybody had a good experience with any of the programs out there?
Assuming you find a lawyer to review it, what if he suggests changes? Now you've paid the first lawyer fee, have to go home and make the changes yourself since you are the one that paid for the software. Now you have another lawyer fee to review it to make sure it meets their criteria? I would think it would be much less expensive to just have the lawyer do it to start with.

Don't confuse prices of setting up complicated trusts through an estate attorney with having them do a simple will. We had a complete package with will, medical directives, etc drawn up by a lawyer for about $300. They also keep a copy of it for the rest of my life should the one in my house get destroyed.

State laws are constantly changing. Why would I trust my kid's future on some software manufacturer headquartered clear across the country to have my best interest in mind when drafting up a will? I wouldn't.

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