When I first started thinking about estate planning, I honestly had no idea of what to ballpark for cost. You could have told me that it would cost $50 or $5,000 and I would have believed both. In truth, you can find estate planning solutions to fit both price points. And in some cases, you can even find solutions that won’t cost you a penny.
On average, attorneys charge between $100 and $300 per hour for estate planning services, so you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for a full-service solution according to estate planning expert and attorney, Andy Joyce.
Create a good will for free
There are more than a dozen self-service tools available (check out my review of the best online will making tools), and even a handful of free options. If you’re looking for an estate planning service that won’t cost you a penny and will provide you with a comprehensive set of documents, there are three tools that stand out from the crowd.
Tomorrow is by far and away the best free tool on the market. Joyce stated, “The contents of the will itself are very thorough. This will address all of the issues that were not addressed in some of the other documents I read— overall, 10/10.”
The user experience is great and it’s the only mobile-first tool on the market. Whether you’re looking for a one-stop solution, or something to serve as a starting point for your conversation with an attorney, Tomorrow is a great place to start.
Keep in mind that all the tools I reviewed are businesses, so they have to make money in some way. Tomorrow makes its money by trying to sell users on life insurance, so be prepared for some targeted selling throughout the process. It wasn’t obnoxiously in-your-face, and I thought it more than justified the quality of the experience and end result.
Time to Complete: 25 minutes
Overall Score: 20/20
User Friendliness Rating (1-10): 10
Attorney’s Will Quality Rating (1-10): 10
FreeWill is another great option, with a focus on charitable giving. FreeWill doesn’t charge for its services but instead it receives compensation by referring potential donors to charities they name in estate planning. Don’t be concerned about having your personal details revealed without permission— FreeWill asks first before reaching out on your behalf. The overall will creation process is very simple and easy-to-follow.
Some of the questions in FreeWill’s planning process were a little complicated, and the support options through the platform are more limited, so you might want to have an attorney look over your documents after you’re done.
Time to Complete: 25 minutes
Overall Score: 14/20
User Friendliness Rating (1-10): 7
Attorney’s Will Quality Rating (1-10): 7
If you want an easy and FAST estate planning option, then choose LawDepot. The company advertises that you can have a will completed in five minutes, and they’re not wrong. Because they are trying to make the process as painless as possible, the questions don’t get too deep into the nitty gritty. For that reason, it produces a more basic boilerplate set of documents but will more than suffice for basic estate planning considerations.
Time to Complete: Five minutes to complete a will; 20 minutes total when also completing the power of attorney and living will
Overall Score: 13/20
User Friendliness Rating (1-10): 8
Attorney’s Will Quality Rating (1-10): 5
What to do after you’ve completed your will
After you have your free estate planning documents you might want to have a lawyer look them over. Many of the services I reviewed offer both a PDF and Word version; if possible, opt for a Word format so you can easily make edits.
Remember, on average, you’ll pay $100 to $300 per hour for an attorney’s time, so budget that into your considerations. If you’re comfortable with your documents as-is, then sign them in front of two witnesses (one of which is ideally a notary), and file your documents in a safe place.