Is Nolo's Online Will Right for You?

Nolo’s Online Will provides a basic will that works for many people. It is private, easy-to-make, and low-cost. But it isn’t for everyone.

Our will might not be right for you if you have:

  • complicated property (for example, a shared business)
  • difficult family relationships (for example, you’re worried that someone might contest your will), or
  • complex wishes for your property (for example, you want to put conditions on gifts)

Learn more about what Nolo’s Online Will Can Do and What Nolo’s Online Will Cannot Do.

Making Basic Decisions About Your Will

Making a will is not difficult, but it is undeniably a serious and sobering process. Before you begin, you can get organized by focusing on these important questions:

  • What do you own?
  • Who should get your property?
  • Who should care for your minor children if you can’t?
  • After your death, who will distribute your property according to your wishes?

You can learn more about these and many issues on Nolo’s Online Will Questions and Answers page. Of course, the ultimate choices, are up to you.

Making a Will Without a Lawyer

As a way to decide who gets your property, the will has been around in substantially the same form for about 500 years. For the first 450 years, self-help was the rule and lawyer assistance the exception. When this country was founded, and even during the Civil War, it was highly unusual for a person to hire a lawyer to formally set out what should be done with his or her property. However, the legal profession has since convinced many people that writing a will without a lawyer is like doing your own brain surgery.

In truth, the hardest part of making a will is figuring out what property you own and who will get it when you die—questions you can answer best. Our will-making program, which has been in wide and successful use for three decades, prompts you to answer the right questions—and produces a will that fits your circumstances and is legal in your state.

But you may have a question about your particular situation that Nolo’s online will does not answer. Or perhaps you have a very large estate and want to engage in some sophisticated tax planning. Or you may simply be comforted by having a lawyer give your will a once-over. Whenever you have concerns such as these or simply feel that you are in over your head, it may be wise to consult an attorney with knowledge and experience in wills and estate planning.

Helping Someone Else Make a Will

You can use Nolo’s Online Will to help a loved one or friend make a will. But you must be sure that your role is only to type in the will maker’s wishes. In other words, the will maker, not you, must decide on the terms of the will. If your role exceeds these limits, a court could declare the will invalid—and you may even face legal charges.

If you decide to help someone else prepare a will, you may want to take an extra step to document your role: Make an audio or video recording of the process or ask someone else to be present as a witness while you follow the will maker’s directions.

EXAMPLE: Betty asks her neighbor, James, to help her make her will because her hands shake too badly to type her responses into the program. She dictates her answers to James and he types them in at her direction. She also tells James to print out the document for her to sign. For extra security, Betty’s friend Wendy watches as a witness so she can later testify to James’s role, if necessary.

If the person you want to help cannot clearly direct the will-making process, or if you have any concern that the person may not fully understand what it means to make a will, see an experienced estate planning attorney for help.

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