No, each of you must make your own will, even if you both agree about how your property is to be distributed. There is solid legal reasoning behind this rule. Joint wills are intended to prevent the surviving spouse from changing his or her mind about what to do with the property after the first spouse dies. The practical effect is to tie up the property for years and make it impossible for the surviving spouse to react to changed circumstances. Also, many court battles are fought over whether the surviving spouse can revoke any part of the joint will. That's why joint wills are very uncommon these days. If you want to restrict how your property can be used after your death, or make special provisions for children from a prior marriage, using a trust is usually a better solution; see a lawyer for specifics.
No. You must sign your will in front of two witnesses, but no state requires that a will be notarized to be valid. However, some states allow you to attach a self-proving affidavit, which must be notarized, to your will. A self-proving affidavit is a separate document, signed by your witnesses, that makes it simpler to admit your will to probate after your death. If your state offers this option, your Online Will will print out with a self-proving affidavit.
Pour-over wills transfer property to a trust after death. Most people who make pour-over wills leave most or all of their property through a living trust or through other beneficiary designations (such as life insurance), so that very little property ends up passing through the will. You can use the Online Will as a pour-over will. To do so, name your trust as beneficiary of the will, using the trustee's name and the name of the trust. For example: "John Doe as trustee of the John Doe Living Trust, dated January 1, 20xx."
The property you leave through the will may have to go through probate when you die. Because living trusts are designed to avoid probate, if you leave too much property through your will, you may end up thwarting your own intentions. Before you make a pour-over will, be sure you know how much property your state allows you to pass through your will without triggering probate proceedings.
Nolo's Online Will allows you to name three levels of executors –- your first choice, one alternate executor and one second alternate executor. It is best to name just one person for each level of alternate.
Nolo's Online Will allows you to name two coexecutors to serve together. But think twice before you do this. Coexecutors may act without each other's consent -- and, if they ever disagree, your estate may be the loser because of lengthy probate delays and court costs.
If you're really set on naming more than two people to serve together as executor, see a lawyer.
A clause that deals with what will happen if spouses die at the same time is sometimes referred to as a "common disaster" clause. Nolo's Online Will does not use a common disaster clause. Rather it provides for such an event using two common tools –- alternate beneficiaries and a survivorship requirement of 45 days. The will states that if your beneficiary does not survive you by 45 days, then the gift goes to your alternate beneficiary.
Here's an example to show how this works to provide for a common disaster:
Harry and Wilma are in a fatal car accident. Wilma dies immediately, and Harry dies a few days later. In each of their wills, they left everything to the other with a survivorship requirement of 45 days. Wilma named her sister as her alternate beneficiary and Harry named his son from a prior marriage as his alternate beneficiary. Because Wilma was already dead when Harry died, his property goes his son. Because Harry did not outlive Wilma by 45 days, her property passes to her sister.
The result would be the same even if Harry and Wilma died simultaneously or if it could not be determined who died first.
No. You cannot make a bequest that will take effect only if a certain condition occurs –- for example, "$5,000 to John if he stops smoking." Such conditional bequests are confusing and usually require someone to oversee and supervise the beneficiaries to be sure they satisfy the conditions in the will. For example, when and how could an executor decide that John had really stopped smoking? To use Nolo's Online Will, you must be willing to leave property to adults outright; you cannot make them jump through hoops or change their behavior to get it.(You can, however, appoint an adult to manage property you leave to children or young adults.) If you really want to make a conditional bequest, seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney.
You are not generally required to leave property to your children. (There are a few exceptions; for example, in Florida, your primary residence must go to your spouse or minor children.)
It is important, however, that you at least state each child's name. If you don't, it may not be clear whether you intentionally left a child out of your will or whether the child was accidentally overlooked (called "pretermitted," under the law). Children unintentionally omitted from your will -- usually because you made your will before they were born -- may have a right to claim a share of your estate.
No. The management provided under Nolo's Online Will is not sufficiently detailed to provide for people with special needs. If you need this type of management, see Special Needs Trusts: Protect Your Child's Financial Future, by Stephen Elias and Kevin Urbatsch (Nolo), or consult an attorney who specializes in dealing with the needs of people with disabilities.
With Nolo's Online Will, you can make an unlimited number of wills during your subscription period. To start a new will, go to your My Account page, find the Online Will and click the "Create" link.
Nolo's Online Will provides only one online will. If you want to make powers of attorney, living trusts, or health care directives, consider purchasing Quicken Willmaker -- software which provides all of those documents (and more) for your entire family.
Log back into your Nolo.com account here or, from our Homepage, click "Sign In" at the upper right corner - the LOGIN HERE button under Do It Yourself Customers - enter your email address and password.
You can make changes to your Online Will as long as the subscription is still active in your Nolo.com account.
If the subscription has not expired, log back into your Nolo.com account here, and click on the name of your document to return to the interview. Follow the prompts.
If the subscription has expired and your document has been purged from our system, you can
When the Online Will expires, our system automatically emails you of this fact and that you have 3 months from the expiration date to renew before the document is purged from our system. This email is your indication that the renewal option is available. Once the renewal option is active, any time you enter your Online Will again, you will see a button that will allow you to purchase the document at the renewal price. There is no way to trigger this renewal option any earlier, as this is an automated process. There is also no way to retrieve a document once it has been purged from our system.
"Bad" contacts will not disappear from the "Review the Names in Your Will" screen until all instances of the bad name are removed from the document in which they appear. There is no quick and easy way to find all the instances except to go through each screen and subscreen of the interview again to find the "bad" names. Once you have removed all instances of the "bad" name, it will no longer show in the "Review the Names in Your Will" screen.
Duplicate versions of a name in the "Review the Names in Your Will" screen is usually created when the user accidentally puts an extra space in the name. You will need to find the "bad" name as described above and correct it in order for it not to show in the "Review the Names in Your Will" screen.
If you need further assistance narrowing down where in the interview the "bad" name may be, please contact us.
The problem seems to be that, when one is looking at multiple documents in your Nolo.com account using the same browser, the two documents look like that data is getting "meshed together" but is actually not. If you go into each document on a separate browser (i.e. using Internet Explorer for your will and Mozilla Firefox for your husband's will), you will be able to keep the data you are viewing separate.
This is not how our programmers intended it, so they are in the process of troubleshooting the cause and fixing it. However, until the fix is created, the above is one certain way to make sure you do not experience this issue.
Our online interview pages have a 30 minute timeout period. If you are entering a lot of data, periodically click NEXT then BACK to save your data and continuing entering more data.
Some customers have experienced more severe "lost data" issues, where several screens of information are lost. Our programmers are still investigating this issue, so if you experience this, please send us more details HERE for our programmers to troubleshoot.