Managing Your WillMaker File (.pfl)

In Quicken WillMaker & Trust, a "WillMaker File" is the file where your documents and contacts are saved. WillMaker Files have the extension ".pfl" and we sometimes refer to them as a WillMaker "portfolio."

This "one file" approach offers important advantages:

  • You can easily share contact information (and changes in that information) among documents.
  • It helps prevent confusion that might arise from keeping your documents in multiple places.

This part of the Users' Manual describes how to create and save WillMaker Files, password-protect them and back them up.

Creating a WillMaker File

Quicken WillMaker & Trust uses the name you enter in the introduction to create a WillMaker File for you.

We recommend that each person creates a separate WillMaker File file, to avoid confusion about whose documents are in what file. Learn more about sharing WillMaker portfolios.

If you decide to create additional WillMaker Files, you can return to the "Enter Your Name" screen. To do this:

  1. Go to the Enter Your Name screen by choosing File > New WillMaker File File (Windows) or File > New (Mac).
  2. Type your name (or, if the file is for someone else, his or her name) in the text entry box.
  3. Click Next.
  4. When you next see the Save File dialog box (either now or later, depending on your saving preferences), check that the default file name and save location are what you want, then click Save. For more information about saving WillMaker Files, see Saving Your WillMaker File, below.

Unless you specify otherwise, the program names the file "WillMaker [year] File of [name you entered].pfl" and saves it to your Documents folder. It also creates an identical backup file to use if a problem occurs with the original file. (To find out more about backup files, see Opening a Backup WillMaker File, below.)

Opening a WillMaker File

Each time you start WillMaker & Trust, the program opens the WillMaker File that was open the last time the program was used. You can't have more than one WillMaker File open at a time so, if you open another WillMaker File, the program closes the one that was open.

How you open a WillMaker File depends on how recently you've used it.

Opening a WillMaker File You've Used Recently

To open a WillMaker File you used recently:

  1. Choose File > Recent Files (Windows) or File > Open Recent (Mac) to see a submenu of recently used WillMaker Files.
  2. Click the name of the WillMaker File you want to use.

The program opens the WillMaker File you selected.

Opening a WillMaker File You Haven't Used Recently

To open a WillMaker File that hasn't been recently used:

  1. Choose File > Open WillMaker File (Windows) or File > Open (Mac) to bring up the standard Open dialog box used for opening files.
  2. Locate the file you want to open. In most cases, it will be in your Documents folder. If you can't find it, use the Windows Search feature to search for all files on your computer with a ".pfl" file extension.
  3. Click Open.

After you open a file created with a pre-2017 version of the program for the first time, you'll see a message about file conversion (confirming that you converted an older file into the current format). Also, you will confirm, or change, your name.

Caution: Some documents from older versions of the program can't be converted. If you've opened a WillMaker File created with a pre-2017 version of WillMaker & Trust for the first time, it's possible that some of your old documents won't appear in the Document List. This happens only if we've made such substantial revisions to a document that we can no longer support earlier versions -- or if the document template in question is no longer available in the program. In addition, you may be required to review some document interviews completed in your pre-2017 version of WillMaker before you can print them out in a newer edition.

Saving Your WillMaker File

If the Automatically save changes feature is turned on in the program preferences, the program automatically saves data to the currently open WillMaker File as you move from one interview screen to the next. If this feature is turned off, you'll need to save data manually.

To find out how to save data manually and how to change your program preferences, see Saving Your Data.

Protecting Your WillMaker File

If your computer has multiple users, you may want to ensure the privacy of your WillMaker documents by assigning your WillMaker File a password. Once you've done so, no one can unlock your WillMaker File without knowing the password.

Locking a WillMaker File

To lock the currently open WillMaker File:

  1. Choose File > Lock WillMaker File to open the New Password dialog box.
  2. Enter the password (the program asks you to do this twice to double check it), along with a hint to help you remember it. Note that your password is case sensitive.
  3. Click OK for this dialog box and the next one, which confirms that your WillMaker File is locked.

The next time you open the WillMaker File, you'll see a WillMaker File Locked dialog box before it opens. You'll then enter the password and click OK to open the file.

To prevent unauthorized users from viewing or changing your documents, your locked WillMaker File is encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with a key size of 256 bits. AES is an official U.S. government standard for protecting sensitive information. Cryptography experts have analyzed AES extensively and consider it very secure.

If you've forgotten your password, you will not be able to open your WillMaker File. Nolo cannot help you unlock files that have been locked with a password. We suggest you enter a hint to help you remember it. If you are afraid of forgetting your password in the future, try using other security alternatives. For example, you may want to copy your WillMaker File to a CD-R or USB flash drive and erase the original from your hard disk. Then place the CD-R or flash drive in a safe or safe deposit box.

Tip: Choosing your hint. When you choose your password, make your hint as useful as possible. For example, instead of "name of favorite horse" for your hint, say "name of favorite horse (no caps or abbreviations)" to help you remember you spelled it mistered instead of, say, MrEd. Once your WillMaker File is locked, you open it by entering the correct password first. While you can unlock a WillMaker File and change its password (see below), you can only do so when the WillMaker File is open.

Unlocking a WillMaker File

To unlock an open WillMaker File:

  • Choose File > Unlock WillMaker File.

A dialog box will confirm that your WillMaker File is now unlocked.

Changing a WillMaker File's Password

To change the password assigned to an open WillMaker File:

  1. Choose File > Change WillMaker File Password to open the New Password dialog box.
  2. Enter a new password, along with a hint to help you remember it.
  3. Click OK for this dialog box and the next, which confirms that your WillMaker File is locked.

Opening a Backup WillMaker File (Windows)

Whenever WillMaker creates a WillMaker File, it also creates an identical backup copy of it. Each time the program saves data to your WillMaker File, it also saves the same data to your backup WillMaker File. This backup can come in handy if a problem ever occurs with your original file.

Unless you specify otherwise, WillMaker stores backup WillMaker Files in the Nolo Documents Backup subfolder of your Documents folder.

You will be unable to open a WillMaker File stored in the Nolo Documents Backup folder. This prevents accidentally overwriting your backup WillMaker Files. If you encounter a problem with a WillMaker File and need to open its backup, you will first copy the backup and paste it into another location.

To open a backup WillMaker File:

  1. In Windows, locate the Nolo Documents Backup folder. If it isn't in your Documents folder, use the Windows search feature to find it.
  2. Open the Nolo Documents Backup
  3. Locate the backup WillMaker File you want to open.
  4. Copy the backup WillMaker File and paste it into a different folder or onto the desktop.
  5. In WillMaker and Trust, choose File > Open WillMaker File.
  6. Locate and open the copied WillMaker File, as described in Opening a WillMaker File above.

Opening a Backup WillMaker File (Mac)

To restore a backup of a WillMaker File on the Mac, use Time Machine. You will need to have Time Machine set up in order to do this.
To open a backup WillMaker File:
  1. Quit WillMaker.
  2. Using Finder, locate the WillMaker File you would like to restore. This most likely will be in your Documents folder.
  3. Click once on the file.
  4. In the menubar, click on the Time Machine icon, and select Enter Time Machine.
  5. Choose the date and time you would like to restore from, then click Restore.