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WillMaker Download FAQs

Is WillMaker an online app or downloadable software?

Both! When you buy WilMaker Plus or All-Access, you can choose to make your estate planning documents online or with the software. You can use both, but the two platforms don't share data, so the documents you make using one platform will not be available on the other.

WillMaker Starter users can get the downloadable software by upgrading to Plus or All-Access.

Why are there two ways to use WillMaker?

Until recently, WillMaker was available only as downloadable software. Nolo now offers the same dependable, easy-to-use forms in an online app. WillMaker Plus and All-Access customers have access to both platforms.

So, it's your choice which to use. Try one or the other -- or test out both. Just keep in mind that you can't transfer documents or data from one platform to the other.

What is the difference between the two versions of WillMaker?

While the documents, interviews, instructions, and support information are nearly identical in the online and download versions of WillMaker, there are some important differences.

With the online version of WillMaker, you:

  • Get six key estate planning documents
  • Access WillMaker through the internet
  • Use WillMaker on your tablet or mobile device
  • Make new documents and changes for one year from the purchase date

With the download version of WillMaker, you:

  • Get seven key estate planning documents, plus many others
  • Download WillMaker to your computer (Windows or Mac).
  • You need internet access only for the initial download and for subsequent updates.
  • Receive updates through the end of the version year (that is for WillMaker 2023, through 2023)

Compare the online and download versions of WillMaker.

WillMaker Updates

Nolo releases updates to the download version of Willmaker throughout the product year. So WillMaker 2023 receives updates through 2023. These updates keep WillMaker legally up to date and running smoothly. The software checks for updates every time you open the program, as long as your computer is connected to the internet. If an update is available, you are given the option to download it.

How do I register my copy of WillMaker?

If you purchased WillMaker from willmaker.com or through the WillMaker book, you are already registered.

Otherwise, you can register your software as you install the program or by choosing Help > Registration and following the directions on the screen. If you have trouble, call us at 800-728-3555 (8am to 5pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday).

Registering your software gives you access to the online version of WillMaker.

How do I get a WillMaker account online?

WillMaker customers either start online or with the software.

If you started with the software, you can get an online account by registering your product. See above.

How do I get the download version of WillMaker?

WillMaker customers start online, or they start with the software.

If you started online, you already have access to your WillMaker portal. In the portal, go to the bottom of the My Documents page, and you'll see that you can download the software version of WillMaker from there.

Printing WillMaker Documents

You can print your document when you're finished with the document's interview. You can't print a document before you're finished with the interview because the course of the interview determines what's in the document -- so you have to finish the interview first.

Some of the more substantial WillMaker documents contain many distinct documents. In those cases, when you print or save to PDF, you'll be able to choose which documents (within the overall document) you want to download. For example, you can print just the signing instructions or everything but the signing instructions.

Formatting Your Documents

Generally, you do not need to change any of the default formatting of your documents. Nolo legal editors have checked the documents and verified that signature lines and witness lines appear as they are supposed to.

The program allows you to change your document's font, line spacing, and margins. Choose File > Print Options, and make any adjustments you would like. The changes will appear in the preview of your document.

You can restore the default settings at any time at File > Print Options.

Hash Marks (////)

Many documents have lines of "////" at the end of a page; these are called hash marks. Hash marks are both a precaution and a legal necessity -- they prevent someone from inserting additional contract language into a blank space in a document after you have signed it. Specifically, WillMaker uses hash marks when the page that precedes the document's signatures contains less than a full page of text. WillMaker has built-in formatting that forces certain blocks of text to stay together on the same page.

Occasionally, the program miscalculates the length of the hash marks, leaving you with a page with very little text except for the hash marks. You can usually fix this problem by slightly adjusting your print margins in the Print Options dialog. (For example, the standard bottom margin is 0.45 inch; changing it to 0.6 inch will usually correct the problem.)

Document Backups

For your protection, WillMaker automatically creates a backup copy of your WillMaker File every time you work on it. WillMaker keeps this in a folder in your Documents folder called "Nolo Documents Backup." We suggest copying these backup WillMaker Files to an external medium (onlinebackup storage, external hard drive, flash drive, or CD/DVD) and storing them in a separate location. You can also change where WillMaker stores backups.

To protect you from inadvertently overwriting a backup, the program won't let you open a WillMaker File while it's stored in the Nolo Documents Backup folder. If you have a problem with your original WillMaker File and need to use the backup, copy the backup from the Nolo Documents Backup folder to a different location.

Identical WillMaker Wills for Spouses or Partners

When you finish making your WillMaker will, you can easily create a nearly identical will for your spouse or partner. In this "reciprocal" will, all of the provisions -- such as beneficiaries, alternate beneficiaries, and children's guardians -- will be the same, except that the spouses' or partners' names are reversed. For example, if you make a will and name your spouse or partner as your executor, the identical will for your spouse or partner will name you as your spouse's or partner's executor.

Couples are not required to create identical wills. But for those who want to do so, WillMaker offers a feature specifically for this purpose.

When you have completed a will for one spouse or partner, here's how to duplicate it for the other:

  • Go to the Congratulations screen for the will of the first spouse or partner.
  • Click Duplicate for Spouse; you will see an advisory message.
  • You will go to the Your Documents screen and the duplicated will will appear under your spouse/partner's name.
  • Click the Resume button next to it.

At this point, you will be led through the entire interview for the duplicate will. When you get to the checklist, you'll notice that none of the parts are checked, even though this will contains the information carried over from the first will. These parts will be checked when you have reviewed the information. For each part in the checklist, click through all interview screens to make sure the second spouse or partner agrees with the choices the first one has made. You can change the information in this will, but keep in mind that these changes will not be reflected in the will of the first will-writing spouse or partner.

When you've reviewed all screens, you can preview and print the completed will as you did with the first spouse's will.

Here's a tip: Work on the first will interview with your spouse or partner. Because the first spouse or partner to write a will is, in effect, creating the will for both, we suggest that both spouses or partners work on the will interview together, discussing and agreeing to all decisions and choices.

Starting and Deleting WillMaker Documents

The download version of WillMaker has two screens where you'll find a list of documents: the Your Documents screen and the All Documents screen.

The first time you use the program, the Your Documents screen lists six Essential Documents, which are the core of estate planning. They are:

  • Will
  • Living Trust
  • Health Care Directive (Living Will & Power of Attorney)
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances
  • Final Arrangements
  • Information for Caregivers and Survivors

On the All Documents screen, you'll find all the documents included in WillMaker listed by category. Once you've started a document other than the Essential Documents, it will also appear on the Your Documents screen.

To start any document, click the Start button.

After you've started a document, when you hover over its document title on the Your Documents screen, an X will appear to the right of the Resume/Open button. Clicking the X will delete the document you created (a pop-up will ask you to confirm that you want to). The document template will remain. If it's one of your Additional Documents listed on the Your Documents screen, you'll still be able to create a new version from the All Documents screen. You cannot delete the six titles listed under Essential Documents.

Managing Your WillMaker File (.pfl)

When you're using the downloadable version of WillMaker, a "WillMaker File" is the file where your documents and contacts are saved. WillMaker Files have the extension ".pfl" and we sometimes refer to them as a WillMaker "portfolio."

If your family is sharing one version of WillMaker, we recommend that each person creates a separate WillMaker File, to avoid confusion about whose documents are in what file.

To create additional WillMaker Files, choose File > New WillMaker File.

The program also creates an identical backup file to use if a problem occurs with the original file.

Each time you start WillMaker, the program opens the WillMaker File that was open the last time the program was used. You can't have more than one WillMaker File open at a time so, if you open another WillMaker File, the program closes the one that was open.

To open a different WillMaker File, choose File > Open WillMaker File. Locate the file you want to open. In most cases, it will be in your Documents folder. If you can't find it, use the Windows Search feature to search for all files on your computer with a ".pfl" file extension.

If your computer has multiple users, you may want to ensure the privacy of your WillMaker documents by assigning your WillMaker File a password. To lock the currently open WillMaker File, choose File > Lock WillMaker File to open the New Password dialog box. The next time you open the WillMaker File, you'll see a WillMaker File Locked dialog box before it opens. You'll then enter the password to open the file.

If you've forgotten your password, you will not be able to open your WillMaker File. Nolo cannot help you unlock files that have been locked with a password. We suggest you enter a hint to help you remember it.

Managing Your Contacts

The program stores your Contacts in your WillMaker File with the documents you create. When you enter information about people and organizations in document interviews, WillMaker adds it to your Contacts. This saves you from having to reenter it in other documents.

While the program creates and maintains Contacts in the background, you can also work directly with it. For example, changing a name in Contacts changes that name in all the documents that contain it.

To revise a contact, go to Contacts and click the contact from the list on the left side of the screen. Type your changes. Click the Save button.

If a name is not used in any of your WillMaker documents, you can delete it from Contacts. Go to contact from the list on the left side of the screen, and mouse over the name you want to delete. Click the X to the right of the name.

At the bottom of a contact record is a list of which documents use that name. If you try to delete a name that is used in your documents, the program won't allow you to do so. In this case, you can revise the document that name is in to remove it. When the name is no longer used in any documents, you'll be able to delete it from Contacts.