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I've been reading that wills for the "basic" scenario is pretty much a cut-and-paste at the attorney's office. Rather than spend the money with a lawyer (300-600USD) I thought I'd look into a DIY solution.

Are there websites that supply instructions and outline documents to guide one through this process? Or should I purchase a product like Quicken's WillMaker 2011? Or is there another, better alternative?

  • 1
    Good question. I would also add "Living Trust" to the "Will" in the question. – Vitalik May 18 '11 at 23:48
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    Frazell has already mentioned good options. I just want to encourage you to do this - I've not made a will, myself, but I have probated a will. This was using NOLO docs purchased from Staples for about $50. Add to this a few hours to complete the docs (at the kitchen table), a day off work to attend court, and I put total cost around $400 - $500. The attorney wanted $3000. For the vast majority of us with uncomplicated estates, wills, probate, etc etc this stuff just isn't that difficult. Good luck! – gef05 May 19 '11 at 0:23
  • Probably needs a country tag (USA?), if not more localized. – MSalters Jun 3 '11 at 11:38
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You can buy DIY will kits from office supply shopes like Staples or specialized publishers like Nolo or Quicken.

The most important factor for you to consider will be the witness rules in your state to ensure the validity of your will later. Nolo has a lot of good information in this regard.

Hopefully this is helpful :)

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    Once you make the will and print it out, what are the next steps? Does the software guide you? – MrChrister May 19 '11 at 4:04
  • The last one I used did, WillMaker if memory serves me. It gave you a checklist of what needed to be done. It also reminded me of the signature rules of my state. – Frazell Thomas May 19 '11 at 4:12
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I used LawDepot to do this. It worked well for my simple case, though you are limited in the number of people you can name, for example, to inherit a share of your estate. And as Frazell Thomas pointed out, you do need to have your signature witnessed. I would certainly use LawDepot again for a simple will, though I suspect my next will is going to be complicated enough that I'll actually have to use an attorney.

Note that a significant life change such as getting married may invalidate any current will. This is certainly the case in my jurisdiction, but this may not necessarily be true for you.

Note that if you die without a will, your estate will be divided up in a deterministic manner. My wife died recently and as her immediate next of kin and with no children, I was therefore entirely esponsible for her estate. Had we had children, the children would have received $40,000 each, the rest coming to me. This will depend greatly on your jurisdiction, and I'm not sure what happens if the estate is insufficient. I bring this up simply because both my wife and I were happy with the other handling the estate, and a will would not have made dealing with her death significantly easier.

  • I'm so sorry to hear that your wife passed away recently, and thanks for your helpful response. – Fixee Aug 3 '11 at 18:17

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