Writing your Last Will and Testament is a very important step to protect your family and loved ones. It allows you to make key appointments, and also describe the distribution of your assets. But it is only step part of a complete estate plan.
At USLegalWills.com we offer a complete estate planning service – you are able to create all of the documents that you need in one place. In this article we will describe all of the documents that make up a complete estate plan. We will explain the role of each document, and let you know how and where you can create each document.
There is a difference between writing a Will, and creating your complete estate plan. Here are the documents that you need.
A Last Will and Testament
What is it?
A Last Will and Testament serves two important functions. It allows you to make key appointments, and then allows you to describe the distribution of your “assets” (everything that you own).
We recently commissioned a survey to determine how many Americans didn’t have a Will. But we added a question that most surveys don’t ask; “Do you have a Will, but you consider it to be out-of-date?”. People often feel that it’s difficult to get their Will written. But updating a Will can be just as onerous and expensive.
For Americans over the age of 65, over 15% had a Will in place, that they regarded as out-of-date.
Traditionally, writing a Will has been an expensive and inconvenient process. You would need to make an appointment with a lawyer. If you lived with a spouse or partner, you would need to co-ordinate this appointment with their schedule. You may even need to arrange childcare. Writing a Will with a lawyer is rarely done in one visit. You may need to discuss certain decisions with loved ones. You would certainly have to return to sign the documents after they have been prepared.
As a result, people have traditionally thought of Will writing as a once-in-a-lifetime activity. They would wait until that perfect time in their life to write their Will. A point in their life when nothing would likely change.
The problem is, that time never came, and as a result 65% of American adults don’t have an up-to-date Will in place.
You don’t need a lawyer to write a Will.
A lawyer, or estate planning attorney is trained in the law. If you have doubts about a particular situation, and you need a legal opinion on this situation, then you should speak to a lawyer.
Most people when they write a Will do not need to consult with a legal professional.
For example, if you wanted to write a Will that leaves everything to your spouse. But if you were both involved in a common accident, your estate would be divided between your children. This is a very standard Last Will and Testament. There is no legal nuance with this Will, and you would not need legal advice to prepare it.
Even if you had to set up a trust for a minor child, and name a guardian for your children, it is still a simple Last Will and Testament. There would be no need to pay $500 or more for this type of Will.
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.
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!