This question leads to a number of further questions;
What exactly is a Will?
Why are some Wills free?
Why do some Wills cost $1,000
How much should a Will cost?
What about online Will services?
Why do Wills at USLegalWills.com cost $39.95?
We will address all of these questions and more in this article.
What exactly is a Last Will and Testament?
A Will is a piece of paper that firstly states that the document is indeed your Will. It usually makes key appointments, for example an Executor who has the responsibility to carry out the instructions in your Will. It then goes on to describe the distribution of your “estate” (everything that you own).
Your estate is made up of bank accounts, real estate, investments, possessions and even family heirlooms. These are your “assets”. There are strategies for moving assets out of your estate, and there may be some good reasons for doing this. I’ll explain that later in the article.
There are around four million births every year in the US. That’s a lot of babies to clothe, feed and diaper change. Becoming a parent is one of the greatest joys in life but it also brings with it a lot of responsibilities.When your child is born you might not think immediately about estate planning, but if you’re smart, you will know that you need to consider this question now! Getting this planning done right away is some of the best advice for new parents that we can give.
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results. The following points will help guide you through some important steps to ensure careful planning for your estate and children.
After an individual’s death, his or her assets will be gathered, business affairs settled, debts paid, necessary tax returns filed, and assets distributed as the deceased individual directed in their will. This distribution of assets will be conducted on behalf of the decedent by a person acting in a fiduciary capacity, either as the executor (in some states called a personal representative) or as a trustee, depending upon how the decedent held his or her property.
The executor plays a very important role after the testator (the deceased will maker) dies as they have a number of duties including the task of tracking down assets, paying creditors, and making sure beneficiaries named in the will receive property to which they are entitled. Being an executor is not a simple role and should not be taken on without serious consideration. To help you gain an informed perspective on the duties of an executor, we have outlined some general information and frequently asked questions that all executors should consider.
When we decide to sit down and write a Will we obviously think about our valuable possessions, property and savings, but more importantly than all of that, you might need to consider a legal guardian for your children.
Two-thirds of American parents haven’t chosen a legal guardian, but whether your children are infants or teenagers, they are the ones that will benefit from careful parental attention to guardianship. The nomination of a legal guardian is a straightforward aspect of any family’s estate plan but you will want to give a full consideration of all potential guardians before jumping into a decision.
Everything written in this article is correct as of August 29th 2018. Prices, services and review ratings change. We will attempt to update this post if there are material differences to the information presented here.
Comparing LegalZoom with USLegalWills.com – Executive Summary
Looking for an alternative to LegalZoom for writing your Will?
You may not have time to read this complete article, so here are the key points;
Both LegalZoom and USLegalWills.com have been offering Will writing services for nearly 20 years now. The longevity of both companies is an important consideration when choosing an online Will service provider.
In terms of the core Will writing service, USLegalWills.com has more options and more flexibility. It includes features like Pet Trusts, Lifetime interests trusts, a specific section on charitable bequests and Mirror Wills. There are no features in the LegalZoom service not available at USLegalWills.com
USLegalWills.com is AT LEAST half the price of LegalZoom. When you take into consideration additional features like updates over time, USLegalWills.com is a fraction of the cost of LegalZoom (unlimited updates to all of your documents for 10 years is $34.95 at USLegalWills.com, at LegalZoom updates cost you $29.95 every single time you want to make a change!). There are also no ongoing subscriptions at USLegalWills.com and never any need to cancel a recurring payment.
USLegalWills.com specializes in estate planning documents which means that customer service know estate planning, and the additional tools on the website are all geared towards estate planning. LegalZoom also specialize in business incorporation, trademarks and intellectual property service.
USLegalWills.com have created a suite of services to support your Will. These include naming a keyholder to access your documents after you are gone, documenting your assets for your Executor through the MyLifeLocker service, uploading files to a digital vault for your loved ones, even writing messages to be distributed after you have passed away. LegalZoom only offer the downloaded documents and nothing else.
Why is LegalZoom bigger? because they took a different corporate strategy in raising $800M of venture capital investment over the last few years. This gives the company a massive advertising budget. USLegalWills.com is privately held. This means that it is not driven by profitability and returns to investors, so we offer a fair service for a fair price. But this also means that we do not have $800M to spend on marketing!
Do you work in an industry that promotes Will writing for your clients? Maybe you are in finance, or insurance, or the funeral industry. Perhaps you work for a charity that promotes the idea of planned giving in one’s estate plan. Maybe you just work in the area of financial literacy, or you work with seniors planning their retirement. There are countless industries that understand the importance of Will writing. But often we find that professionals meet with their clients to discuss the value of a Last Will and Testament. The client agrees, and promises to get their estate planning in order. Only to meet up again a year later and nothing has changed. At USLegalWills.com we have an affiliate program that can help you, and your client.
My uncle promised me his car, but he’s died and the Will says nothing about the car. Do I have a right to it? How can I contest a Will?
This happens a lot. Somebody dies, the Will is published for all to see, and it doesn’t quite meet the expectations of family and loved ones. Sometimes there is a suspicion that something strange has been going on. There’s a sense that somebody worked on the individual, persuaded them to make some changes and updates, and all of a sudden the estate that was going to the children, is now going to the new person who has just appeared on the scene.
So what rights do you have? Can you contest a Will if it seems that something strange has been going on? Or if that promised item is not included in the Will?
Maybe you are ready to write your Will, but you want to leave some people out. How can you be sure that after you have written your Will it will not be challenged?
Last year, we commissioned an independent study which showed that only 28% of Americans had a legal, up-to-date Will in place. Even if we took out the under 35’s from this survey, it showed that around two thirds of Americans did not have an up-to-date Will in place. The results clearly showed that most people don’t know when to write a Will, and that there is a common misconception that the best time to write one is later on in life.
When we looked specifically at under 35 year olds, nearly 90 percent of young American adults did not have an up-to-date Will in place!
Why are so many people woefully underprepared for their own death? Well, on a daily basis not many of us like to think about our inevitable demise. Frankly, Its just morbid and something that most of us don’t want to think about. Like going to the dentist or sitting an exam, there are some uncomfortable scenarios that we put off for as long as possible. Writing a Will should not be one of them, but it seems that the thought of going over your possessions and paying a lawyer is just too much effort for most people. Granted, writing a Will isn’t fun and when you’re young there are a million and one exciting things you would rather do but it’s really not such a long and laborious process as you might think. To help you see the benefits of having a Will we have outlined the reasons why you’re (almost) never too young to write one.
When to write a Will? Death comes to us all
You shouldn’t think of writing a Will as a once-in-a-lifetime activity. You do not have to wait for the perfect time when your family and financial situation has permanently settled down. We encourage everybody to write their Will today, and then update it throughout your life as your circumstances change. Continue reading →
Many people think the time to make a Will is when they’re old and two steps from the grave. That is not the case. Whenever anyone begins to acquire assets or income, they should think about a Will. On the personal side, whenever anyone becomes a parent, they need to anticipate that they may not survive until the child becomes an adult. It may be unlikely, but having a Will in place provides some insurance, and allows you to name guardians for children.
These are some of the main advantages of having a Will if you have children. If you have children, a Will is a must.
A guardian of is someone who takes the place of the parent and assumes the responsibility of raising the child until the child reaches the age of majority, typically 18 years of age. Raising the child means caring for their education, attending to all the child’s health issues, Continue reading →
“A note on Privacy: the protection and security of the documents created on our web site are of critical importance. In particular, we cannot access any information contained in a specific Will, nor can we read a person’s Will. However, we are able to access aggregated data on planned giving from an encrypted database folder that summarizes the number of times particular choices have been made within our service. We cannot connect this information to individual accounts. It is this data that has been mined to provide the information in this post”
Background to our study
At USlegalWills.com, we help thousands of Americans create their Last Will and Testament. A Will contains a lot of important information, such as who will be the guardians of your children and who will receive your house after you pass on, and it can also serve as a great way to give back to the community upon your death. Leaving money or assets to a charity is called “planned giving,” which USlegalWills.com offers for all its Wills. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, in 2015, individual giving, which makes up the vast majority of contributions received by non-profit organizations, “amounted to $258.51 billion in 2014, an increase of 7.1 percent in current dollars from 2013.” Ever since the Great Recession in 2008, “individual giving has been increasing in both current and inflation-adjusted dollars for the last couple years, although it has not recovered to pre-recession levels.”
Actual word cloud from bequests made at USLegalWills.com
With this charitable giving trend on the rise, we were interested in the level of “planned giving” going on in the United States. According to Russell James, the number of people aged 55+ with a charitable estate beneficiary hovers between 5% an 6%.
It seems that the subject of making a Will is something that most people simply want to avoid as much as possible. Every survey ever done about the topic shows that the majority of adult Americans have not made a Will. We just avoid the subject and dig our heads in the sand. But you need a Will. No matter what your circumstance, you need a Will.
No doubt there are many reasons for the excuses. None of us wants to think about our own mortality. Some people are even superstitious enough to think that making a Will might hasten our own demise. However, even if you do not have a penny to your name, you should make a Will.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about making a Will. Here we talk about the confusion that people have about the reality of why you need a Will.
The lifestyles of the rich and famous are endlessly fascinating. Sometimes they become even more fascinating when they are no longer with us. You would think that the privileged among us would have it all sorted out when it comes to estate planning and wills. However, as you will see from these notorious cases, all too often they make huge errors. Here are some stories of the most complicated and prolonged disputes over wills and estates.
Anna Nicole Smith
The ill-fated and rather tragic life of Anna Nicole Smith involves not just one, but two estate disputes. Anna Nicole married J. Howard Marshall in 1994 when he was 89 years old. Anna Nicole, a former Playboy Playmate was just 26 at the time of their marriage. Some saw the 62-year age gap between the couple as an excuse to label the bride a gold digger – you can of course draw your own conclusions! Continue reading →
One of the most important questions that you must ask yourself when you are making a Last Will and Testament is how to choose a guardian for your children. None of us ever want to think that we won’t be around to care for our children until they are adults. However, sometimes that becomes a reality.
It is not very likely to happen, but you do need to make sure that there is a provision for someone to look after your children in the event of your death. You can do that by making a Will and giving some detailed thought about how to choose a guardian for your children.
A Will allows parents to name the person or people who you would like to appoint as guardian for your children. This is one of the most important provisions in a Last Will and Testament for all those of us who have minor children.
If you do not choose a guardian in your Will, one will be appointed for you by the court. The decision of who looks after your children will be taken out of your hands. To avoid this, it is very important to choose a guardian in your Last Will and Testament.
How much should you be paying for a Will? Why should you pay anything when just a few clicks away, you can find a free Last Will and Testament service? How can the exact same document cost $800 from an attorney, and absolutely nothing from a website? how do you choose how much to pay for your Will?
All interesting questions which we will answer in this article.
What is a Will?
To understand the variation in the cost of a Will, you have to understand what makes a document a Last Will and Testament.
A Will declares itself to be your Will. It typically appoints an Executor who is responsible for following the instructions laid out in the document. It then goes on to describe how you would like to distribute your things after you are gone.
To make this a legal document you must print it on a piece of paper, date it, and sign it in the presence of two witnesses, who both in turn sign the document. Continue reading →
Should You Make Provision for Your Pets in a Will?
We have all seen the stories of eccentric millionaires who leave their fortune to their pets in a Will. Their relatives are cut out of the Will, but Fido receives a very generous legacy. But it’s not as easy as you may think to leave something to your pets in a Will.
One of the most famous of these cases is that of billionaire Leona Helmsley’s dog. He was the lucky pooch who inherited $12 million from her estate. The Maltese dog, perhaps appropriately named “Trouble” was one of the major benefactors of her estate. Some of the family members weren’t quite so fortunate. Two grandchildren received nothing, and Leona evicted her son’s widow after his death. Trouble did not get quite as much money as he bargained for as a judge later reduced the amount to $2 million. The grandchildren who Leona excluded were awarded $6 million and the balance went to charity.
Leona Helmsley earned the title of “Queen of Mean” during her lifetime. She served 18 months in prison for tax evasion. Unfortunately, her gift to her dog made Trouble the most hated dog in the country. He is said to have received numerous death and kidnapping threats, so had to have a permanent security guard with him. He lived in style, but only spent about $190,000 a year. Most of that was on his security detail. Although we are sure there was plenty left over for grooming and food. Continue reading →
Do you want to know how to write a Will? Even though writing a Will is one of the most important things that everyone ought to do, most of us are very good at avoiding the issue. Most people put off the task of writing a Will, even though it is one of the most important things that we can do for our family.
The one thing that you should not be apprehensive about is that you do not know how to write a Will. There are plenty of resources out there to help you.
None of us really wants to think about our own demise, so putting off writing a Will seems like the easier option. Unfortunately, the reality is that if we don’t deal with the task of writing a Will we leave our loved ones with huge potential difficulties.
As with any task that comes to mind on odd occasions in your life, writing your Will can seem overwhelming. So much so, that most people don’t do it. However, if you are coming to this page, something that probably happened in your life to make you realize that writing a Will is a vitally important task.
Sadly most people who feel an immediate need to prepare their Will just do a Google search for a local estate planning attorney. They make an appointment, pay several hundreds or thousands of dollars and live with the peace of mind that the task is finally off their To Do list. As long as they don’t need to update it.
Blended families is a term that includes families for whom one or both partners have children from a previous marriage. In other words, your spouse may not be the biological parent of your children. Blended families have become increasingly common, especially as the divorce rate in many countries including the United States hovers around fifty percent. There are several nuances that emerge when you write a Will for a blended family situation.
Blended families have to balance bequests between children from previous marriages and the current marriage.
Put simply, if you leave everything to your spouse in your Will, and they are not the biological parent of your children, there is every chance that their life would move on. There is then a distinct possibility that your children may not even be a factor in their estate plan.
A number of surveys over the last few years have reported that anywhere from 55 percent to 64 percent of Americans have not written their Wills. However, one under-reported statistic is the number of people who have their Will in place, but made it so long ago, that it no longer reflects their current circumstance. At USLegalWills.com we wanted to explore the current state of Will writing in the US, and delve deeper into the issue of outdated Wills.
The USLegalWills.com survey was conducted within the United States by Google Consumer Surveys, June 2016, among 2,012 adults aged 18 and older, and has a root square mean error of 1.4%.
Results are weighted by age, gender, and region. For full information on Google Consumer Surveys’ methodology and validity, visit here.
Across all age groups 28.4 percent of Americans had up-to-date Wills. 8.6% had a Will but it was out-of-date. 63% had no Will at all. This means that 71.6 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date Will.
Even when we focus on Americans over 35, two thirds don’t have an up-to-date Will.
Only half of Americans over the age of 65 have up-to-date Wills in place.
One in six Americans over the age of 65 have a Will that is out of date.
Wealthy Americans are no more likely to have written their Will.
Wealthy Americans are more likely to have an out-of-date Will.
Number of Americans without Wills
Our aggregated numbers show that 71.6 percent of Americans do not have an up-to-date Will. We rarely see the number of out-of-date Wills reported, but it makes a significant difference to the story and clearly demonstrates that there are significant improvements needed in the way that Will writing is presented to Americans.
We know that everybody needs a Will, and consistently over the years we’ve heard that around two thirds of Americans don’t have their Wills in place, but now knowing that nearly ten percent have an out-of-date Will adds to this concern. Continue reading →
Thinking about Making a Will, but not managed to get started? don’t worry, you are not alone. Unfortunately, many people procrastinate the estate planning process for a variety of reasons. People might think that estate planning is complicated, time-consuming, or will cost them hundreds of dollars in fees.
According to a survey by legal insurance firm LawPRO, 56% of Canadian adults do not have a Will, more than half of them because they either don’t know how to get started or think they can’t afford to. The numbers are almost identical south of the border: the American Bar Association cites 55% of American adults as not having a Will or estate plan. Continue reading →