More than half of Americans do not have a will. The expense of legal services could be discouraging them from having one written. A lawyer can cost $300 an hour.
Consumer Reports looked at three software programs that claim to help you write a will for far less. Rocket Lawyer and the heavily advertised LegalZoom allow you to create a will online. The third program tested, Quicken WillMaker Plus, is available as a download or a CD-ROM.
The software ranges in price from a $25 flat fee to $119 for a yearly subscription. Consumer Reports bought all three programs and tested them. Then, with the help of an outside expert, Consumer Reports judged the programs’ ease of use and the quality of the wills they produced.
Consumer Reports found problems with all three programs. There was little specific information on state estate-tax laws, which can be different from federal laws. And there are other drawbacks with the do-it-yourself wills. They do not allow users to create a special-needs trust, and they give no specifics on compensating executors. Still, Consumer Reports says that any of the three programs is better than nothing if you have no will.
Quicken’s WillMaker Plus is the best of the three. But unless your needs are very simple, you’re better off consulting an attorney.
Consumer Reports says the do-it-yourself wills it evaluated do have one benefit: They can help you get organized and ready to answer an attorney’s questions, which should cut down on time and legal fees.