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Our comprehensive estate planning tool allows you to easily create wills, living trusts, and other important estate documents all in one place. You can make powers of attorney, health care directives, living wills, and so much more. Take the online quiz to help you decide which bundle is best for your needs.

Learn more about Nolo's WillMaker Estate Planning documents

The heart of every estate plan is a will, also known as a last will and testament. This legal document puts you in control of who inherits your property and who would take care of your children if it were ever necessary. Without a will, state law determines these issues. Your will also allows you to name an executor (sometimes called a “personal representative”) to carry out our wishes. And you can appoint a trusted person to manage property left to young people. With Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust, you can revise and update your will whenever you like.
Spare your loved ones difficult decisions by laying out your wishes for medical care and naming someone to carry out your instructions. Includes a health care power of attorney and a living will.
Distribute your assets and provide property management while keeping your trust property out of lengthy and expensive probate proceedings after you die.
A durable power of attorney ensures that someone you trust (called your "agent" or "attorney-in-fact") will be on hand to manage the many practical, financial tasks that will arise if you become incapacitated. For example, bills must be paid, bank deposits must be made and someone must handle insurance and benefits paperwork. In most cases, a durable power of attorney for finances is the best way to take care of tasks like these. You can also give your attorney-in-fact authority over your digital assets.
Plan a funeral or other ceremony and ease the burden on your loved ones. Describe your preferences for burial, cremation, memorials, obituaries and more.
Organize your information so that your survivors don't have to. Use these documents to give them details about everything from bank accounts, to passwords, to the names of people you'd like contacted in the event of your illness or death.
Use the Letter to Survivors to leave your loved ones detailed explanations about your decisions. For example, you may want to let them know why you made certain gifts or named a particular person to be your executor. You can also use your letter to leave some general thoughts about your life.

FAQs

Unlike the other states’ laws, Louisiana law is derived from Napoleonic code. This makes Louisiana estate planning law very different from the laws of the rest of the country, and WillMaker doesn’t address Louisiana’s unique requirements. You can create a basic Louisiana will with our simple online form.
If your permanent residence is outside of the United States, you should not use WillMaker. If you are out of the country temporarily –- for school, a job or because you serve in the military, you probably still have ties with a particular state that make it your legal residence. In that case, you can still use WillMaker. For example, if you were born in Wisconsin, lived there for many years, are registered to vote there and receive mail there in care of your parents, who still live in Milwaukee, then Wisconsin is your legal residence for purposes of making a will even if you are spending three months on sabbatical in Europe.
If you’re not sure where you legally reside, consult a lawyer.
Yes, WillMaker is intended for individual family use, and you can use it to make more than one of any document. You can make a will for yourself, your wife, your brother, your parents, and so on.
To start a new document in Willmaker, go to the Your Documents screen. Or on the Your Documents screen, click on the orange "New Document" button.
No. With WillMaker, 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 to set up this kind of trust.
That said, with WillMaker you and your spouse can easily create identical wills -- that is, two separate wills in which all the provisions (such as beneficiaries and children's guardians) are the same. If you want to do this, look for the "Duplicate for Spouse" button provided on the Congratulations screen at the end of the will interview (after the Print Preview screen).
No. You must sign your will in front of two witnesses, but no state requires that a will be notarized to be valid.
That said, 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 WillMaker will will print out with a self-proving affidavit.
You can read more about self-proving affidavits in the WillMaker Legal Manual or at https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/self-proving-affidavits.html.
If you’ve looked into creating a revocable living trust to avoid probate, you may have heard of a “pour-over will.” This kind of will is often used with a living trust. Under the terms of a pour-over will, all property that passes through the will at your death is transferred to (poured into) your trust. Then it’s distributed to the trust beneficiaries you named while you were alive.
Advantages of Pour-Over Wills
Why have a will that does nothing but transfer property to your trust? (For that matter, why do you need a will at all if you’re using a living trust to leave your property?) The answer is that many estate planners think it’s a good idea to have all your assets covered by the terms of just one document, the trust document. This arrangement offers several advantages.
Simplicity. When everything is controlled by just one document, the trust, it makes it clear who gets what. It’s also easier for the executor and trustee who are in charge of wrapping up your estate after your death.
Completeness. You’re not going to transfer everything you own into your living trust. (No one does.) A pour-over will takes care of assets that you don’t get around to transferring to the trust before your death.
Privacy. Trusts, unlike wills, are private; they don’t become public records after your death, available to anyone who wants to look at them. This keeps the details of who inherits your property more private. (Michael Jackson was just one celebrity who left a will that simply poured all his property into his trust. Reporters and the curious rushed to read the will once it was filed with the court, but learned nothing about who was to inherit.)
Disadvantages of Pour-Over Wills
The main downside to pour-over wills is that (like all wills), the property that passes through them must go through probate. That means that any property headed toward a living trust may get hung up in probate before it can be distributed by the trust. This may force the living trust to go on for months after the death of the will and trust maker. In contrast, property left directly through a living trust can usually be distributed to the beneficiaries within a few weeks after the trust maker’s death.
EXAMPLE: Joy transfers her valuable property to her living trust. She also makes a pour-over will, which states that any property she owns at death not specifically left to someone in the will goes to the living trust. When Joy dies, the property left through her will goes to the trust and is distributed to the residuary beneficiary of her living trust, her son Louis. The living trust must be kept going until probate of the will is finished, when property left by the will is poured over into the living trust.
If Joy had simply named Louis as the residuary beneficiary of a plain backup will, the result would have been the same, but the process would have been simpler. The living trust would have been ended a few weeks after Joy's death. And after probate was finished, Louis would have received whatever property passed through Joy's will.
Fortunately, in most cases, not too much property passes through a pour-over will. If you do good job of estate planning, you’ll transfer all of your valuable assets to the trust while you’re alive. Only the leftovers—things of minor value—should pass under the terms of the will. And if the value of the property that passes under the will (often called the “probate estate”) is small enough, your estate may qualify for special “small estate” probate procedures. These procedures are quicker, simpler, and less expensive than regular probate. In most states, they can be used for any kind of property except real estate.
Executor’s Duties
Like other wills, a pour-over will nominates someone to serve as executor of the estate—that is, to wrap up the estate after your death. Normally, the executor's duties include gathering the assets, paying debts and taxes, and eventually transferring the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. In the case of a pour-over will, however, the executor has just one job: to take all assets that pass under the will and put them into the living trust.
You’re going to all the trouble of setting a revocable living trust to spare your family the expense and delay of probate. So it would defeat the purpose if a formal probate proceeding were necessary just to get assets into your living trust. But it’s a possibility. Unless your estate qualifies for probate shortcut, assets that pass through the pour-over will still need to go through probate.
You can make a pour-over will online, quickly and easily, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust.
Successor Trustee’s Duties
Once the assets are held in the name of the trust, they become the responsibility of the successor trustee—the person you named in your living trust to take over at your death or incapacity. A successor trustee’s job is similar to that of an executor, except that that the trustee has control only over trust assets (and has no control over property that’s part of the probate estate). Your trustee will collect trust assets, including those transferred under the terms of your pour-over will, and distribute them to the trust beneficiaries. A trustee, unlike an executor, doesn’t need a probate court’s approval to act.
The trustee will follow the instructions you left in the trust document. If you want all trust assets given to the beneficiaries right away, that’s what the trustee will do. If you want the assets (or some of them) to stay in the trust, to be managed for the benefit of children or young adults, the trustee will keep them in the trust. In that case, the trustee will have a much more complicated job, requiring careful management, investment, and spending over a period of years.
WillMaker 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.
The WillMaker 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.
No, the WillMaker will does not contain a common disaster clause because it addresses the possibility of a common disaster in another way.
A 'common disaster' clause deals with what will happen if spouses die at the same time. Rather than using a common disaster clause, the WillMaker will 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 to 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, with WillMaker, 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 the WillMaker will, you must be willing to leave property to adults outright; you cannot make beneficiaries 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 in your will. (Your WillMaker will does this.) 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.
Do not use the WillMaker will to leave money or property directly to a person with special needs. The management provided under WillMaker does not sufficiently provide for special needs and it does not protect eligibility for government benefits.
However, you can use your WillMaker will to leave money or property to a special needs trust. If you name the special needs trust as a beneficiary of your will, the money will go into the trust rather than directly to person with special needs. This will help your loved one remain eligible for government benefits and will provide property management tailored to your loved one's needs.
To learn more about special needs trusts:
Quicken WillMaker & Trust 2022

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