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Customer Review

156 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult job made do-able, June 8, 2007
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This review is from: Suze Orman Will & Trust Kit (CD-ROM)
It is more fun to eat live snails than to sit down and do trusts and wills, not to mention the dreaded Advanced Directive.

Everyone puts off this very necessary chore because they know that going to an attorney is expensive and that all this is necessary because of death, a subject we avoid when possible.

Now there are many software programs that promise to make it possible for many people to do this work at home and without the expense of an attorney. Be aware, though, that attorneys say that people trying to do it themselves can make expensive mistakes and that the fee for professional services is money well spent.

I suspect that many people with uncomplicated estates can probably do ok with a software program, but that complicated estates really need an attorney. The question of what is fairly simple and what is complicated can only be answered by the individual.

Even if you have doubts about doing it yourself, it makes sense to get a program and do it anyway. You will know the kind of questions you have to answer and generally get an idea of the process. Then you can go to an attorney with some backround that will make the process easier, maybe saving an hour or three of expensive attorney time.

The Orman program is heavily advertised and Suze herself is kind of a celebrity. It is also reasonably priced and the advertisements seemed realistic. I went with Suze and successfully filled everything out, got the appropriate forms witnessed and notarized and copies sent to relatives, doctors and hospitals. Felt a lot better afterward as I am sure most people do.

A will is like having a colonoscopy. Everyone knows they should have one, but put it off as long as possible. I was forced into action because I was facing a serious time in the hospital and thought that if I left feet first, that my wife and kids would have a terrible time dealing with stuff a will would make easier. All turned out well, but I am really glad I did the paperwork and do not have to think about it unless things change.

The advanced directive, in case some people don't know, is a legal document that allows a hospital to cut off life support when you are brain dead in case your spouse is not available to give the word. This is not an uncommon occurrence as you could both be dead or incapacitated in a crash, for example. You can be free to go without interference from politicians who think they can raise the dead or from relatives who can't make the decision. Doctors know when it is time.

The Orman program is probably about as simple as it can be, but it deals with legalities, life and death, money and real estate and other property. That is all hard stuff. Attorneys will likely charge close to $2000 to do this because it takes hours of work. So, it is not an easy even for professionals. I managed to complete everything in about five hours. Those that have used tax software will find the process familiar.

Suze gives you stuff to read and also does a voice-over in some cases. Other experts also chime in now and then. I thought this was going to be annoying, but actually found it to be useful. I do suggest earphones or decent speakers if you are forced to operate in a noisy environment.

In California, at least, some of the forms need to be witnessed and notarized. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries, so you have to get two strangers to sign some ominous documents for someone they do not know. I was lucky to find a couple in the hair salon next door to the notary. This is not the fault of Orman, but still you have to line people up. You might call the notary for advice. Stupid requirement.

There are multiple forms, several pages each. You need to make copies for relatives, your doctor and hospitals. That adds up to a lot of copies and a lot of paper that needs to be accurately collated. I suggest you get a stapler and a bunch of manila mailers that are addressed.

You also need cover letters. For example, the copy of the advanced directive that goes to your doctors should have a cover letter explaining that you are sending the directive so it will be in their files in case the need should arise to use it some day.

I also emailed my relatives and told them their will and directive copies were coming and what my general expectations were. I guess it is more traditional to keep it a secret until the end. Depends, I suppose.

Oh, and one of the forms is a narrative that details the disposition of your property. For example, you could say that aunt Mary gets your collection of pornographic statues, Uncle Bill gets the tv and so on.

So, it took me all day to complete the program, get witnesses and notary, collate and mail everything. That is about as fast as possible I think. Afterward, I felt relieved and accomplished. I had more than one drink in celebration.

There is nothing as nice as getting nagging odious tasks done. And the colonoscopy saved my life, so there.

I gave Suze five stars. I have not compared her program to any of the others. The legal requirements are the same and I figure Orman is in a position to hire competent legal and technical people. There is no way to know if everything will go smoothly for my heirs. One could hire an attorney to look it over and that shouldn't take too long.

The program does a good job of guiding you through a complex procedure. You still have to make decisions, of course, but the fact that this all went smoothly and everything printed was very impressive. This was done on a Mac, which is good since programs like this are usually ported to Windows first. Now that Macs also run Windows makes it even more likely to work for you on any computer.

I am impressed with this program and recommend it. I doubt that there is any way to make a will/trust/directive program any easier and I trust that the people behind it are competent. So, five stars.
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Initial post: Sep 27, 2011 10:46:00 AM PDT
Great review of this product! Informative, educational, and helpful in making a decision about its validity.
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