I created my will, health care directive and durable power of attorney with a previous version of this (I think it was 2010) and when it was offered to Vine reviewers I thought it would be a good time to review things. This version has some new things that I won’t use, at least not right now, others that interest me and a couple that are really useful to me, some of which aren’t estate-related.
Installation on my Windows 7 PC was painless and fast. The new version found my old documents, asked me if I wanted to import them, then did so when I said yes. It left the older version on my PC intact, which is a good thing.
To be honest, I haven’t stepped through every detail of my will with this version but it’s at the top of my list due to some changes in my life and in the lives of some of my beneficiaries. My feeling is that if the quality of this version is in the same league as the quality of previous versions, that will be a good experience.
Here are some things I like about the product:
* “interview” approach (like TurboTax) puts anything and everything in your face so you have to deal with it and if you have a spouse/partner (I don’t), bring him/her into the conversation too.
* subject areas you’re prompted to deal with include other estate related items, like the plan for your funeral. I planned and paid for my “final arrangements” only after WillMaker forced me to think about them. The plan ain’t gonna make itself! Here too, you’re interviewed and asked things that you would probably never even think about.
* lots of potentially handy freebies (or I consider them freebies since they’re not estate-related). E.g., a generalized bill of sale. Ever bought a car (or boat, or camper, or motorcycle) from or sold one of these to a friend, relative or stranger? You need a bill of sale whether you know it or not.
Here’s the only thing about the product I don’t like: I can’t arrange care for my pets generically. I expect to outlive my two dogs but if I don’t, I want them cared for and I want to make a bequest to make that happen. With WillMaker, I have to describe each dog physically and by name. That means that if Pearl or Buford or both of them die before I do, each of their deaths will make me have to redo my will. If I then adopt a parrot named Eric (a live one, not one that is pining for the fjords), I will have to redo my will again.
Here’s why doing or redoing your will is a big deal: WillMaker will produce your documents quickly and conveniently, at your own pace. Once you’re happy with them, you need to…
* have them witnessed by several people in the presence of a notary, and the notary at your bank, Fedex/Kinkos or UPS store may decline to notarize a will due to potential liability issues.
* secure the original signed and witnessed document(s) in a place your executor can get to if you are, uh, incapacitated. In my state at least, copies of wills have as much value as toilet paper. If your executor can’t put his/her hands on the original, you may be presumed to have no will at all.
* for some documents in some states, go to your county courthouse and pay a fee to have the document(s) recorded to make them legal (I had to do this for my Durable Power of Attorney for Finances in the state of North Carolina, I think it cost around $40 plus parking plus dodging panhandlers)
So be aware that “doing your will” isn’t trivial, even though WillMaker makes *producing* your will pretty trivial. This is why I wish there were more generic pet care language in WillMaker. But that’s not a deal-breaker for me - this is still a huge bargain over paying a law firm to do some, but not all, of the above.
Don’t let this too-much-work stuff scare you off. Somebody has to do this for you. Somebody *will* do this for you. Me, I prefer to be in control of stuff like this as long as I can be. So just face reality and get this done.
on November 1, 2013
Last year I was visiting the office of a friend of mine, a senior banking attorney at a major New York law firm. While there, he asked me, incidentally, if I would be a witness to his will that he made with Quicken Willmaker. I couldn't stop laughing-his firm has a trusts & estates department, and he could no doubt have had them draft the will at no cost. He said that the Willmaker software was easier to use than it would be to speak with the T&E attorney (he is married but no kids, and has relatively simple requirements).
Willmaker is easy to use, reasonable in price, and most important will eliminate probably 90% of the problems of a person, even a married person (where the assets would go to the spouse) who dies intestate (without a will).
It is not for complicated trusts, nor (from what I can tell) will it handle issues of legal guardianship of minor children. But as far as money and assets--a big YES!
One note: It is valid only for US residents with the exception of NOT being valid for wills made by residents of Louisiana. In addition, if there is a chance that another jurisdiction could claim the deceased as a resident it would be best to consult an attorney for cross border issues. From what I can tell this should not be an issue for a person who has potentially two or more residences in the US.
on February 12, 2014
I purchased this product because as newlyweds, we felt it was important to protect our assets. The software follows the familiar interview techniques found in other Quicken and Intuit products (think TurboTax). Within 10 minutes, my wife and I both had Wills and I had a Living Will and Power of Attorney. In Ohio, I could either get them notarized or have two witnesses sign them. After that, they are official.
The product also offers a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, Final Arrangements, and an Information for Caregivers option. After using this tool, I feel like we have a few things left to worry about!
This package makes it easy to create a set of the legal documents we all need, but some of us (guilty!) tend to put off. There's no excuse now.
Installation is a snap and quick. I think it took about three clicks and 10 seconds on my system. An introductory video provides a concise overview of the process of completing the included documents. I let WillMaker check for an online update, which it found. The download and installation took 20 seconds.
Crafting a will is largely menu driven, simplified in my case by being single with no children. Along the way, some choices will expand or contract the amount of work you have to do. For example, under "Choosing How to Leave Your Property," you choose a) Leave my whole estate, b) Leave my whole state, with exceptions, or c) Leave it some other way. Note that every step of the way is clearly and concisely explained.
I created a will in about 30 minutes. This included making four specific bequests of property that would probably not benefit my primary beneficiary. There were no head scratchers here. At the end I got to read a draft of the documents, which I could then save as a PDF or print ... or go back to change answers to some of the prompts.
An option is offered to make the will "self-proving," which can simplify probate because it eliminates the need to locate witnesses to the will. A letter to the executor is included, and outlines a lot of helpful information for those of us who infrequently serve that role.
With my will pretty well settled, I'll head into the other major documents: Health Care Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Finances, Final Arrangements and Information for Caregivers and Survivors. I won't go through these with you, but should note that WillMaker Plus does allow you to create any of the documents for others, so you could go through them for yourself, then for your spouse.
But wait, there's more. In a section called "All Documents," you'll find not just the major documents you can create, but a variety of secondary documents. For example, under "Home and Family," you can create documents titled: Authorization for Foreign Travel with a Minor, Authorization for Minor's Medical Treatment, Authorization to Drive a Motor Vehicle, Child Care Agreement, Child Care Instructions, Elder care Agreement, Housekeeping Services Agreement, Housesitting Instructions, Notice to Put Name on Do Not Call List, Pet Care Agreement, Request for Birth Certificate, Request for Death Certificate, Subscription or Membership Cancellation Form, and (whew!) Temporary Guardianship Authorization. This adds up to a lot more than I expected.
Printed manuals are passe but Quicken has added some heft to the WillMaker Plus box by including an abridged version of "The Legal Answer Book for Families" by Nolo (formerly known as Nolo Press). Nolo has been delivering legal information seemingly forever and this volume includes chapters on marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, children and elder care.
I'll admit that I had put off creating a will and health care directives, but I have no excuse now. Quicken WillMaker Plus 2014 will help me tidy up my legal status, without incurring big legal fees and with reasonable confidence in the results. This may not be the solution for people with large and complex estates, but it appears to be a viable solution for the rest of us.
I have owned the 2013 version and the 2012 version of Willmaker. (I must have some sort of death wish.) Anyway, on that basis I had a hard time giving it 5 stars simply because there's really no difference between this and the 2013 edition. In and of itself that's not a problem, except when you own this software, once you use it outside of that calendar year, Quicken will put the fear of God in you that suddenly your wills are no longer valid going forward, that suddenly 2000 years of Western jurisprudence is rendered moot and you must *MUST* purchase the new version. Obviously I'm quite skeptical of this. But be forewarned. Utilizing the version once out of date is possible but their warning messages will make it an uncomfortable exercise. You are best advised to buy this when you need it, use it, and be done with it. And good luck selling your old version.
But all in all, the program DOES its job well. It will guide you through the willmaking process and tell you how to make it legal in your state. I can't take away from that, and for that purpose I cheerfully recommend it.
I think my biggest issue with this product (ignoring the lack of a Mac version, or versions for Linux users, etc.) is that it, like the tax software that gets used each year, seemingly needs to be replaced yearly. Realistically though, the tax laws (in the case of the income tax processing software) change yearly and most lawyers would also advise that the laws surrounding and involving wills, estates, and trusts, also change on a regular basis. In the end, spending the small amount of money that this useful software costs is a wise investment each year, or every other year if you really want to stretch out the use period for this software.
Besides needing to keep up with changing laws, there's also the idea that spending some time planning out your estate on a more regular basis would be highly advisable. Ignoring this process could mean you put together a set of instructions that don't get updated and wind up leaving behind an even bigger mess than if you hadn't even bothered to put together a will. (Do you really want to forget to go back and change your directions if you originally left all of your assets to a wife who long ago divorced you? Or to kids that haven't called you in years?)
Once installed, the software is easy enough to use. Installation should be a breeze, though it doesn't always proceed as easily as that. Just be patient, read the screens carefully, and follow the instructions or use the tips and instructions found online to complete the process. Once installed, update the software with whatever updates are available and from there you are on your way.
Note that if you are intending to work with an attorney than ignore this product. Most attorneys would advise that even if you had the best of intentions in sitting down with this product, that you'd be duplicating effort if you took them printouts from this product and expected them to use those printouts rather than their own documents. That doesn't mean you can't use the reports you get from this product if you are completely doing it yourself, it simply means that most lawyers will use their own reports and won't accept a file from this product, or a report from this product to use to get started with.
on January 13, 2014
I had a previous version of Willmaker and thought it was pretty decent software, providing the legal documents necessary most of us really do not want to think about. I thought I'd upgrade to the 2014 version which came with the 220 page "Legal Answer Book For Families" giving me additional resources and quite a bit of information divided over 7 chapters. I easily imported all of my information from my prior version and saved it. I didn't notice any changes.
Note: I'm not giving out any legal advice as I do not have any legal knowledge.
Oddly enough before I could even review this software, I had a family crisis which led to me learning a little bit more about wills and trusts and how important they are to a family. I know how difficult it is to talk to loved ones about material things or money so it is best if people DO prepare everything as they would like it before his or her passing.
I always just thought you needed only a Will, and in that will you state what you want - to go to who you want - done. In my case, I then learned about Probate. And different types of Probate. And different Trusts. Trust Accounts. Property and accounts that were forgotten to be put in the Trust. And Legal Fees. Sorry to ramble...
So my quick "Will" I did with Willmaker was all complete and specified everything as I wanted such as health care directives, pet care, Power-of-attorney, along with everything I decided in the event of my very, very, untimely passing. It felt good to have things spelled out.
This brings me to the "Trust Maker" software which is included here as online software. Personally I find "Trust" software valuable, but not totally liking the online/expiration part of it. As a very longtime user of Quicken QuickBooks, I know the old upgrade deal$$. But on the other hand, I do realize if I went to an attorney and had a Will/Trust drawn up, then had to return for changes a year or three down the road, it isn't like they are going to do it for free. So, considering the price point, if I had to upgrade/renew later I am sure it would still be a better deal. And yet, some people may opt for the knowledge of a qualified estate planner attorney at much more expense.
I recommend doing a little research on estate planning, wills and trusts. I was forced to after the fact and learned much more than I thought I would.
As basic inexpensive estate planning software with The Legal Answer Book For Families, I'd recommend Willmaker 2014. I'm not surprised at how many people I ask if they have a will say "no" because I used to be one of them. Willmaker makes it easy to plan everything one step at a time.
on January 14, 2014
While attempting to create a Will on Willmaker Plus 2014, which came with online access to a Living Trust, I realized that the will software would not allow me to easily specify the disposition of my pets and also other bequests. After hours of trying to make the bequest the way I thought it should be done, I gave up, and turned it to a pass-thru will, which was also not an option in the software, and attempted to make the specific bequests into the online living trust. However the Living Trust software was worse. Among other things that were difficult, it automatically created two sub-Trusts on the death of the first deceased spouse. That sub-trust should have been a choice, but was not. I e-mailed NOLO sever times and at first they denied it, and then they said it does create a irrevocable trust and that’s the way it was, and if I had a problem with that I should see a lawyer. Don't bother unless you want only a VERY simple document, that may be wrong. In addition, although this software allowed me to create a Will for my spouse, It did not offer s similar process of any other documents for my spouse.
on October 22, 2013
I ordered the boxed CD and loaded it on my Windows 7 computer. I did the online registration and updated as requested. When I went to reopen the program to work on my will it would not let me open it. I get the error message “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file. You may not have the appropriate permissions to access the item”. I changed my user permissions to give “standard users” full permissions for the file and folders but that still did nothing. I tried to right click and open as administrator but that resulted in the same error message. I uninstalled the program and reinstalled…still no luck. The only way to open this file is to log in as the administrator each time you want to work on your will. This is unacceptable to me and likely most people that have Windows 7 computers with user accounts. I tried to contact NOLO but there is no number or online help available anywhere on their site that I could find. The only way to get online help is to send them and email. I sent them an email and got no response. It is hard to believe that a company that sells software does not provide a contact number or online chat for technical support. I do most of my shopping online and often leave reviews as I appreciate those same reviews when I go to make my purchases. Of all the reviews I have ever left, this is only the second time I have left a negative one….and then it was still 3 stars. This product and this company is to be avoided until they offer better support.
on January 23, 2014
It is hard to review a product that did not work on my Windows 7 system. The program installed fine, but when I went to open it on the desktop, nothing happened. I uninstalled, reinstalled and still the problem persisted. So, I contacted Nolo customer service. As they requested, I waited 48 hours but no response was forthcoming. I contacted them again and again, nothing. To date, I have never heard from them.
What I took from this was that they have an inferior product and no customer service to support it. AVOID!