DIY Estate Planning

Sure, with the right instructions you can change your own oil, fix a dripping faucet, or refinish a table--but is do-it-yourself estate planning ever a good idea? The answer may surprise you.

Most people can, in fact, create most important estate planning documents on their own, as long as they have reliable, clear instructions. (After all, you wouldn't start refinishing that table without some instructions--don't write your own will until you know what you're doing.) For example, say it's been three years since you had a child, and you know that you need a will. But you haven't gotten around to calling a lawyer, and you really don't like thinking about the subject anyway. You can easily create a simple, valid will with a software program or online app, and be done.

Later, if, you have questions or think you might need more estate planning, get personalized advice from an expert. For example, if someday you acquire so much money that you are concerned about federal estate tax, have questions about passing on your small business, or want to leave a lot of money to charity, you'll want to talk to a lawyer. Your simple will, though, will still be a fine cornerstone of your estate planning. The same is true for some other estate planning steps, such as creating a living will (advance directive), or naming beneficiaries for insurance policies and retirement accounts.

Software & Online Applications

These applications use an interview style format to gather your information, and then create your documents.

 

Title

WillMaker Plus

Nolo's Online Will

Nolo's Online Living Trust

Format

Software

Online Form

Online Form

Price

$69.99

$59.99

$59.99

Summary

Lets you easily prepare key estate planning forms, tailored to your situation and valid in your state.

Lets you quickly create a custom will that’s valid in your state.

A simple interview lets you prepare a living trust to avoid probate.

Forms you can make

Will

Living Trust

Advance directive (living will)

Powers of attorney

Executor documents

and dozens more

Will

Individual living trust

Shared living trust

Nolo's Books & Form Kits

These books, complete with forms, will walk you through the creation of your own estate planning documents.

 

Title

Quick & Legal Will Book

Make Your Own Living Trust

Special Needs Trusts

Format

Book with forms

Book with forms

Book with forms

Price

$17.49

$29.99

$24.49

Summary

Need a quick will? Here’s an easy way to prepare a valid will.

Forms and instructions for creating an individual or shared living trust to avoid probate.

Lets you create a special needs trust for a person who receives government disability benefits.

Forms you can make

Will

Individual living trust

Shared living trust

AB disclaimer trust

Special needs trust

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