FreeWill.com Review: Good, Free Site with a Charity FocusEstate Planning
- Basics: FreeWill.com offers comparable estate planning documents and allows you to make donations to your selected charities.
- Pros: You get free documents that provide more customization than similar products.
- Cons: Only simple forms are currently available – no durable power of attorney or trust option is available.
- REFUND POLICY
Since there is no cost, there is no concern for a refund.
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- Basics: FreeWill.com offers comparable estate planning documents and allows you to make donations to your selected charities.
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As an estate planning lawyer, I was skeptical about the quality of a “free” will. However, as I walked through the process, I was impressed with the ability to create more specific gifts and options than many similar products.
Overall, the product provided a robust will and living will but it lacks other estate planning essentials.
In this FreeWill.com review, I explain how this company can offer a free product that is actually good. I also discuss when this service might be a good fit for you or when you might need to bring in a knowledgeable estate planning professional.
Here are the main things you should know about FreeWill.com.
What Is FreeWill.com?
FreeWill.com is an online service that provides legal forms and legal information. The site provides self-help forms so that you can create your own estate plan.
This site is charity-focused, allowing you to make gifts to your chosen causes throughout various stages of the drafting process.
How FreeWill.com Works
FreeWill.com offers a few estate planning documents. You proceed through the program in a question and answer format.
Your estate planning document’s customized fields are replaced with your information as you input it.
Within minutes, you can finish your document and download it. You are given thorough instructions about how to make your document official and have the option to have a local attorney review your document at your own expense.
FreeWill offers a free product due to support from nonprofit organizations.
FreeWill.com Vs. an Attorney
FreeWill.com provides estate planning documents that are specific to your state. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the will, in comparison to several hours that it may take for you to meet with an estate planning attorney to describe your wishes.
FreeWill allows you to make more specific directives than many similar products, such as leaving property to charity, having a different guardian to manage your child’s property than the person who will care for him or her, and the ability to provide specific details about your wishes and values in your living will.
FreeWill.com states that if you have complex estate planning needs, you may want to consider having an attorney prepare or review your documents. However, the cost associated with this is on average $250 – $310 per hour, which is often outside the budget of many younger people.
If you have specific estate planning needs, such as leaving detailed instructions, describing how your property should be managed after your death or you need to try to prevent a contest to your will, an attorney may be able to put safeguards in place or use more sophisticated estate planning tools in place, such as a trust.
However, FreeWill.com does provide an option to locate an estate planning attorney in your area so you have the best of both worlds: a free document and an attorney who can give you peace of mind of knowing that your document is valid but without having to pay the lawyer’s steep hourly fee to prepare the document.
What You Get with FreeWill.com
FreeWill.com provides a few simple documents, including:
You can get a free will with this site that covers the average estate plan. You can also allow other people to use your account to also create their own free will.
You can also create a funeral plan and plan for your digital assets as part of your will.
You can also create a living will for free. You can make important designations about who should make medical decisions on your behalf, when this power becomes effective, and what types of life-sustaining treatment you want to receive.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
The site advertises that it provides a durable financial power of attorney product, but I got a “coming soon” message after inputting my contact information, so this service may not be available in all jurisdictions yet.
You can click on the “find an attorney” option to have a local estate planning attorney review your document.
You can continue to return to the FreeWill site to make updates or edits to your will.
FreeWill, which says you can use it to create a will online in about 20 minutes, simplifies the process of making a bequest to charities that are near and dear to your heart.
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Who FreeWill.com Is Good For
FreeWill.com provides a good estate plan for people with a basic estate plan. People who would likely get the most out of this product include:
People Who Want to Leave a Gift to Charity
FreeWill.com is charity focused. You are asked multiple times during the process if you want to leave a gift to charity.
The site even suggests some charities. The site also summarizes stock gifts and qualified charitable distributions you have made with your plan.
People Who Want a Simple Document with Customization Options
FreeWill.com allows you greater ability to customize your estate plan when compared to other products, such as designating backup beneficiaries for each gift you leave and appointing a property guardian for your minor children. You can also make a plan specific to your digital assets.
People Who Want to Leave Detailed End-of-Life Directions
FreeWill.com provides the most comprehensive living will that I have seen so far in reviewing estate planning programs.
You can define the circumstances when you want end-of-life planning, whether you have specific religious or personal values you want to address, when your health care proxy should start making medical decisions on your behalf and whether you have any additional instructions you want to add.
Who FreeWill.com Isn’t Good For
FreeWill.com provides a detailed will and other estate planning documents, but it might not be appropriate for:
People who Want a Revocable Living Trust
FreeWill.com does not currently offer a revocableliving trust. A trust lets you leave detailed instructions on how to manage your property when you pass away or if you become disabled.
People Who Want a Durable Financial Power of Attorney
While FreeWill.com shows a durable financial power of attorney as one of its products, I was not able to create one based on the basic contact information I input.
People Who Want to Disinherit a Child
If you want to disinherit a child so that he or she does not receive anything when you die, you usually need to include specific language that makes it clear that this is your intention and not that you simply forgot to provide for your child.
The drafting process did not ask if you wished to disinherit anyone, so your wishes may not be honored without this language.
People Who Want to Store Their Documents Online
FreeWill.com does not offer a digital vault or other option to share information online like some other estate planning platforms.
People Who Need a Lot of Instructions and Explanations
FreeWill.com is not as robust in their descriptions of different terms or why you would choose one option over another. However, the language is in layman’s terms and is pretty straightforward.
How to Create Your Plan with FreeWill.com
FreeWill.comuses a wizard to help prepare your estate planning documents.
The FreeWill.com process is easy and straightforward. You don’t need any special knowledge to walk through this user-friendly platform. Click on “Get started now” on the home page to begin.
Answer Basic Questions
Input basic information such as your contact information and date of birth. You may be able to click on the appropriate answer or you might need to type it in, based on the question.
Start Making Difficult Decisions
As you go through the documents, you will need to start making difficult decisions. For example, for your will, you will need to determine:
- Who you want to care for your minor children if the other parent cannot or does not survive you
- Whether a different person should be in charge of your minor child’s property
- Which specific gifts of real estate, vehicles, cash, tangible property or digital assets you want to make, to whom, and to whom if your first beneficiary does not survive you
- Which charities you want to make a donation to
- Who you want to appoint as your executor
- Who you want to appoint as the executor of your digital assets
You can also include information about your chosen funeral plans, a list of digital assets and messages you want loved ones to receive after you pass away.
For your living will, you will also need to make tough decisions, such as:
- Who should make health care decisions on your behalf
- When the person you select to make health care decisions for you should start to have this power
- Whether there is anyone you specifically want to exclude from making health care decisions on your behalf
- When you would like to receive life-sustaining treatment
- When you would like not to receive life-sustaining treatment
- What types of life-sustaining treatment you want to receive
- Your spiritual and personal values
- Whether you want to authorize an autopsy after your death
- Whether you want to donate your organs
Review Your Selections
Before you view or download your completed document, you can read over the summary page. Make any necessary edits or changes.
View Your Will or Send it to a Lawyer for Review
Next, you have the option to view your will or to send it to a lawyer for review.
You can click on the “Find an attorney” button to have a lawyer review it. You would be responsible for any costs associated with this review.
Otherwise, you can download a PDF version of your documents.
Read the Finalization Instructions
Review the finalization instructions about how to make your documents official, such as signing it in front of disinterested witnesses and how to properly store your document. The directions also address when you should update your will.
Notify Nominees Via Email
You can email people you selected as guardians, executors or other nominees via email.
You can return to your dashboard at any time to make updates to your documents, find a lawyer to review your documents or make additional documents.
FreeWill.com Consumer Reviews
Better Business Bureau
FreeWill.com does not currently have a Better Business Bureau rating.
Users report that the system is fast and easy to use.
Some users reported not receiving their documents and may have been confused about the service because FreeWill does not print or mail documents and you can download them. The site explains this multiple times on multiple pages.
Consumers report that customer support was helpful and friendly. The site features a help center and community forum. Customer support can be accessed via email.
FreeWill.com Pros and Cons
- Free! You can’t beat free. And you get all the bells and whistles of platforms that you have to pay for to make your estate planning documents.
- Greater customization. FreeWill.com provides more options to customize your documents than many similar products.
- Instant download. After drafting your documents, you can instantly download them and then follow the finalization instructions to have them legal the same day. You don’t have to wait for any documents to come in the mail.
- Attorney review. You have the option of having an attorney review your specific documents and added instructions.
- Thorough finalization instructions. The instructions to make your documents legally-binding are thorough and clear.
- Not for complex estates. The FreeWill.com site says that if you have a larger estate, children with special needs, or complicated family dynamics, you might want to pair the product with an attorney’s help. The site allows you to easily locate an attorney near you.
- No living trust option. FreeWill.com does not currently provide the option to create a living revocable trust.
- No durable financial power of attorney. This service may not be available for all jurisdictions yet, but the site plans on adding this product.
- No hint boxes. While the process is very user-friendly, there are not helpful hints or the ability to ask a question as you move through the process.
FreeWill.com Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I change my documents at a later date?
Yes. You can make changes at any time to your documents. The site is free to use.
- How secure is FreeWill.com?
FreeWill.com uses AES-256 GCM encryption, the top security level currently available. Additionally, the site does not store passwords in plain text and user input is filtered and sanitized to prevent code injection and XSS attacks.
- Are the documents state-specific?
Alternatives to FreeWill.com
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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.