The benefits of do it yourself wills

January 15, 2008 9:24:51 PM PST
The start of the new year for many is a time to get your finances in order.

Do it yourself wills can be a hassle free low cost way of making a will. What you need to know before deciding if these services are right for you.

John Chuang decided it was time for a will when he became a dad. He was busy at work and with a new baby, so he went online. It only cost him $60 dollars.

"This is just a much better option than getting a lawyer, going to their office, paying the hourly fees," said Chuang.

John filled out a questionnaire and presto -- he's done two wills like that in five years.

"I did it you know, half an hour," said Chuang.

Web sites like livingtrustsontheweb.com, legalzoom.com and legacywriter.com are just some of the options. There are also software kits.

Dean Johnson is ABC7's legal analyst.

"I have home software on my home computer. Some of the software & some of the books are pretty good," said ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson.

A lawyer can run you anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand. So doing it yourself can save you good money -- but it doesn't come without risks.

"Probate law, trust and estate law, very esoteric -- it changes all the time. A good lawyer can find the little nuances, which can often save your family, your survivors from being divided by a long and expensive court battle or it can simply save you a few thousand dollars in taxes," said Johnson.

Also if you need estate tax planning, have special assets like a business in your name, or you have a blended family, you may want to think twice.

"That will is your voice after you pass and it's the only voice you have. And this is an area where the will is not done right, no one is going to rewrite it for you," said Johnson.

But for john, doing it on line worked for him.

"You're talking fractions of the cost and it was quick. It's extremely simple," said Chuang.

To learn more about do it yourself bills, click on The Back Story.


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