Do Your Own Will Review: Robust Set of Documents and Tools, Especially Since It’s FreeEstate Planning
- Do Your Own Will
- Basics: Do Your Own Will lets you prepare a will and other estate planning documents at no cost and without setting up an account.
- Pros: You can draft a free will, living will, power of attorney, and other documents while being guided through the process.
- Cons: There is little customization to make the will or other estate planning documents personal to your situation.
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As an estate planning lawyer, I believe that it is important to have legal guidance when you are preparing your estate plan. However, I realize that with the average estate planning attorney charging $250 – $310 per hour, this is not an accessible option for everyone.
Sites like Do Your Own Will fill in this important gap between people who need these documents and those who can afford to pay hefty legal fees. While Do Your Own Will may not be appropriate for all situations, it provides a good option for people with basic estate planning needs.
In this review of Do Your Own Will, I explain what Do Your Own Will offers and give you insight on what you get from this product so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you and your particular needs.
Do Your Own Will Overview
Here are the basics behind the Do Your Own Will.
What Is Do Your Own Will?
Do Your Own Will was created to help people with simple estate planning needs get their legal documents in order for free or a low cost.
The site makes money through advertisers and does not charge to create the basic estate planning documents offered on the site. The site warns that it is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.
How Do Your Own Will Works
Do Your Own Will allows you to create a variety of basic estate planning documents. You begin each one by providing your basic information, including your name, gender (non-binary option is available) and address.
You are presented with a few options along the way to make the documents better reflect your wishes. After completing all of the relevant questions and answers, your will or other estate planning document is generated.
You can download, print or save the document.
You will have to take extra steps to make the document legal, such as signing it and having it witnessed or notarized.
Do Your Own Will vs. an Attorney
Do Your Own Will offers a simple will that uses the most common selections in estate planning documents. For people who have common estate planning wishes, this free option is a good choice to allow them to put an important legal document in place at no cost to them.
Do Your Own Will does provide a disclaimer that any questions that you have on estate planning or for legal advice must be directed to a qualified attorney. The documents also contain a disclaimer that states that they are not providing any guarantee.
While it may be fine to use these documents for a simple estate plan, more specific arrangements are probably best left to a licensed estate planning attorney.
What You Get with Do Your Own Will
Do Your Own Will provides a robust set of estate planning documents, especially considering they are all free. You can choose any or all from the following:
Do Your Own Will allows you to prepare a free will that uses the most common way to distribute your property, such as leaving everything to your spouse or your children if your spouse does not survive you.
You can also name a guardian for your minor children and set up a trust for them if they are minors. You also appoint an executor who will be responsible for carrying out your final wishes. You can notify your chosen executor by sending him or her an email to access your documents.
You can prepare a form that states whether or not you want to receive life-sustaining medical treatment
Powers of Attorney for Health Care
Called a “durable power of attorney” on the Do Your Own Will site, this document allows you to appoint a person of your choice to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to communicate your decisions.
Powers of Attorney for Finances
You can also appoint a person of your choice to be responsible for your financial affairs in case you become ill or disabled or if you are not present to complete financial tasks in person.
Pet Guardian Trust
You can leave instructions for money to be left to care for your pet and also name a caregiver for your pet.
Funeral Planning Checklist
While you are preparing your will, you have the option to include details about your preferred final arrangements, such as selecting whether you want a funeral or if you want to be cremated. The funeral planning checklist supplements this information and allows you to input additional details, such as:
- Who to notify upon your death
- Your favorite flowers
- Charitable donations you want to be made in your honor
- Whether you want to donate your organs
- Funeral, burial, memorial and wake instructions
- Existing prepaid funeral plans you have in place
- Who you want to serve as pallbearers
- What clothing you want to be dressed in
- Preferred speakers and officiants
- Preferred readings, prayers and hymns
- Where you want to be buried
- How you want your body to be presented
- A draft of your obituary
- Which casket you want to be buried in
- Any additional details you want to leave
You can leave a list of important people you want your executor to contact, including their phone numbers and email addresses.
Do Your Own Will also provides a number of helpful documents to help you organize your financial affairs. You can print out the documents and include important information, such as documents that say where you have bank accounts, credit cards, email accounts, passwords and other important information.
You can return to the Do Your Own Will site to make updates or edits to your will or other estate planning documents.
Do Your Own Will provides a number of key estate planning documents all for free and uses standard instructions.
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Who Do Your Own Will Is Good For
Do Your Own Will provides free estate planning documents that are best suited for:
People Who Have Common Estate Planning Wishes
Do Your Own Will’s documents use the most common estate planning selections for you to choose from.
People Who Want Additional Details Before Making Decisions
Do Your Own Will lets you preview the steps before actually making your will. It also provides helpful “Explain it” boxes as you go through the questionnaire that provide additional details.
People Who Want Supplemental Estate Planning Documents
Do Your Own Will offers a litany of other estate planning documents – all for free! You can prepare additional documents like a living will, power of attorney for health care, general power of attorney, pet trust, and funeral arrangement plan.
Who Do Your Own Will Isn’t Good For
Do Your Own Will might not be appropriate for all situations, such as:
People who Do Not Want to Leave Their Property in a Standard Way
Do Your Own Will only gives you options to leave your property in a standard way, such as leaving all of your property to your surviving spouse if you are married or divided equally between your children if you are not.
Therefore, if you want your spouse and your children to inherit at the same time, you want someone other than your children to inherit, or you want to leave unequal shares of your estate to your children, you might need to use another program or seek legal advice. While the program does allow you to disinherit a child, it does not provide additional options to distribute your estate.
People Who Want a Revocable Living Trust
Do Your Own Will offers a pet trust with basic instructions and a testamentary trust for any minor children. However, your will needs to be probated before this trust can become effective.
One of the benefits of using a revocable living trust is that it can help you avoid the probate process, which is not possible with a testamentary trust.
People Who Are Vulnerable to Abuse
As a lawyer with experience dealing in cases involving elder financial abuse, I do not like how simple it would be to print out a power of attorney from the Do Your Own Will site and sign it without realizing the power it gives away or that someone in their orbit tricks them into signing.
How to Create Your Plan with Do Your Own Will
Do Your Own Will lets you create a will and other estate planning documents fast and without setting up an account. You simply click on “Start Your Will” to get started.
Answer Basic Questions
Fill in basic information about yourself by selecting the most appropriate answer and typing in information like your full name and address.
Make Some Decisions
There are not many choices that you are able to make with the Do Your Own Will estate planning documents. For example, you can name an executor and alternate executor in your will of your choosing, but you cannot determine how most of your estate will be distributed.
You can choose guardians for your minor children and whether your minor children will receive their inheritance when they are 18 or 21.
In the health care power of attorney, you can select which powers you want your agent to have.
In the living will, you simply have the option to select whether you want life-sustaining treatment or you do not.
Read the Helpful Hints
There are longer explanations of the decisions you make as you go along. Read these thoroughly to understand the impact of the decisions you are making.
Make Specific Gifts
Do Your Own Will features a simple and practical way to leave gifts. It offers various options, like cash, a vehicle or real estate.
Select the icon that corresponds with the type of gift you are trying to leave.
Then, input the information to answer the fields that populate, such as the address for real estate gifts or the year, make or model of a vehicle you are gifting.
Make Selections for Your Funeral Arrangement
Select the options that you want for your funeral arrangement, such as cremation or a funeral.
Alternatively, you can select that your loved ones can decide. You can also add special instructions in your own words.
Review Your Document
You can now review your document by viewing it as a Word file or PDF. Alternatively, you can print it. You can also click on “Save Your Documents” on the right hand side of the screen by listing your email address if you want to come back to the site and make changes later.
Make It Legal
The instructions on how to finalize your document and make it legally binding are at the end of the document, so read over this information before you sign anything.
Prepare Another Document
You can review the checklist of other documents and prepare other documents of your choice. You will go through a similar process with these other documents as the will.
Note: you will have to type in your basic information again, such as your name and address.
Add Important Details About Your Finances
One of the best benefits of the Do Your Own Will program is that you can organize other financial documents and leave instructions on how to access your regular accounts, as well as those online. The site offers a number of spreadsheets that are designed to be printed and stored in a safe place so your family can have important information when the time comes.
Do Your Own Will Consumer Reviews
Better Business Bureau
Do Your Own Will does not currently have a Better Business Bureau rating.
Users had an easy experience with using Do Your Own Will to create their will and other estate planning documents.
However, users realize the limitations of the product and that it is designed only for very straightforward needs. There is also no legal support during the process, but the site is clear about this.
Consumers can email support or review FAQs.
Do Your Own Will Pros and Cons
Do Your Own Will Pros
- Free. You don’t have to activate a membership, make any purchases or pay anything to have the whole breadth of this service.
- Fast drafting. You can draft your will in less than 10 minutes.
- Instant download. You can instantly download the documents you created.
- Clear ability to make gifts. The icon and follow-up questions make it easy to leave different types of gifts to loved ones or charities.
- Free revisions. You can make unlimited, free revisions to your will by saving your documents to the site or downloading Word versions of them and making changes later.
- Financial worksheets. You can ease your family’s burden by detailing your financial information in one place.
Do Your Own Will Cons
- Lack of customization options. You can’t make less common arrangements with the Do Your Own Will documents.
- No living trust option. Do Your Own Will does not currently give you an option to draft a living trust.
- Lack of online storage. While the worksheets are helpful, there is not an option to complete them and share them online. Instead, you have to print them out and prepare them.
Do Your Own Will Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I change my documents at a later date?
Yes, as long as you save them to the site by listing your email address or you download them as a Word file that you change later.
- How secure is Do Your Own Will?
Do Your Own Will uses a SSL secured connection.
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Valerie graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas School of Law where she also participated in Moot Court and the Arkansas Law Review. She practices law in Arkansas, focusing primarily on estate planning and elder law. She has prepared countless estate planning documents and has participated in a number of guardianship cases since she was admitted to the bar. She is a regular contributor to Nolo.