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Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit Review

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Suze Orman Will & Trust KitIt’s not easy thinking about Wills because doing so forces you to confront your mortality and that one day you will die. However, if you do not take care of this very important piece of business, the State will take care of it for you. In every state there are rules that dictate what will happen to your assets in the event of your death. Unfortunately, they may not match what you’d choose to do with it (chances are they don’t). Creating a Will is one of the most important and significant actions you can do for your finances and shouldn’t be put off. The preparation of Wills is big business too and can cost quite a large sum in lawyer fees, but there’s a way to significantly cut your costs – Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit.

My tentative plan is to create a Will with Suze Orman’s system and then get it reviewed by a lawyer. By having at least a draft, you save a ton of money on the hours that would’ve been spent preparing it. What makes this even better is that the kit is free for a limited time (meaning I have no idea how long it’ll last).

Suze Orman recently gave away her Will & Trust Kit to viewers of her show and you can get it by following these instructions:

  1. Go to SuzeOrman.com
  2. Click on Will & Trust Kit in the left sidebar menu
  3. Click on the orange Gift Code button and enter “people first

And now you have access to the Suze Orman Will & Trust Kit absolutely free.

Account Signup

Account signup was a cinch and took about ten minutes (but I type fast). You’ll have to put in a bunch of information such as your name, SSN, DOB, gender, address, phone, marital status, spousal/partner information (if necessary), value of assets, and answer a few questions about trusts. The system is very TurboTax-like in how it asks you questions rather than simply listing choices.

Throughout the screens, there is audio that you can listen to for additional information and guidance. There each only a few minutes long and I found them very informative. If you’re not in the mood to listen (or you can’t), you can also read a transcript of the audio underneath it.

Handling Personal Information:
With respect to personal information, you have three options to choose from when you first setup your accountL

  • Complete Save & Protect: All information you enter will be automatically saved.
  • Limited Save & Protect: The program will not save Social Security numbers or Dates of Birth; all other information will be saved.
  • No Save & Protect: None of the information you enter will be saved. Each time you use the Kit you will need to re-enter all information.
  • I chose the second option, Limited Save & Protect simply because I don’t know how secure Suze Orman’s site is. I trust companies like H&R Block and Intuit with that information when I prepare my taxes because they’ve been around longer but I don’t know about Suze Orman (her site does appear secure and I honestly have no doubts about it). Plus, it saves everything except Social Security and Date of Birth, those are easy enough to enter as needed.

    Revocable Trust or Only a Will?

    Here’s where the “TurboTax” like walkthrough during account signup comes in handy. About 80% through, there’s a question as to whether you want a Revocable Trust or Only a Will? Knowing nothing else and had I been given no guidance, I probably would’ve chosen Only a Will because I don’t know what a Revocable Trust is. However, based on net estate value and guidelines for my state (and other factors), I’ll want a revocable trust in addition to a Will (anyone with over $30,000 of assets in Maryland is recommended to use a revocable trust).

    Documents

    Following the account signup, I was presented with a list of four documents I’ll need to produce:

    • Advanced Directive & Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
    • Revocable Trust
    • Will
    • Financial Power of Attorney

    I don’t know how many documents there are in total but I suspect Advanced Directive & Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Financial Power of Attorney, and Will are shown to everyone; Revocable Trust is shown to those who feel their individual characteristics warrant it. (plus, there’s a menu up top and there isn’t much room for any other documents to be listed!)

    Will

    Suze Orman Will Trust Kit Will ViewFor the sake of brevity, I’ll only discuss how the Will part works but the creation of the other documents works in the same way. When you click on the Will tab you’re directed to a page that lists all the pieces of a Will. The will consists of the following five parts:

    1. Will – “A will is a legal document that states where you want your assets to go after your death and what you want done with your remains.”
    2. Letter to Your Executor – “If you want certain items of personal property to be given to specific people, you can simply write a letter to the Executor of your will about your wishes.”
    3. Final Instructions Form – “Use this form to let your loved ones know your wishes regarding your funeral, burial, or cremation.”
    4. What to Do When Someone Dies Checklist – “Review this checklist now and when the unexpected occurs you’ll know the necessary steps to take to make the proper final arrangements for your loved one.”
    5. Funeral Cost Worksheet – “Funerals and burials are among the most expensive purchase older people make. When the time comes to make funeral arrangements, if you only contact on funeral home you may pay too much for services. To help you compare the costs of up to three different funeral homes, we have provided this calculator.”

    As you can see, some of the documents are documents you need to create while others are simply useful tools. The will creation menus were quite thorough in what it asked from whether you wanted a traditional Will or a blended family will, how you wanted your remains treated (cremation/burial/donation? embalming?), selecting an executor & an alternate, cash gifts, personal property gifts, contingent beneficiaries, and a few other questions.

    After about a dozen questions and ten minutes, I had a draft version of my will. The draft was slick and took advantage of the fact that I was viewing it in a browser because all the important parts were hyperlinked. I could click on it and change information as needed.

    But you’re not done… for it to be valid, you need to print it, sign it, notarize it with a witness, and do all the legal legwork involved in making it a valid legal instrument. However, I bet you it’s a lot cheaper to start with this draft than it would be to sit with an estate lawyer and have them ask you these questions. Here’s the first paragraph of the product’s disclaimer (emphasis theirs):

    This product provides information and general advice about the law, but laws and procedures change frequently and they can be interpreted differently by different people. For specific advice geared to your specific situation, consult an expert. No book or form of other published material is a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer licensed to practice law in your state. THEREFORE, CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY.

    So, I would start with this and then talk to an estate attorney to finalize. Heck, it’s free and lawyers are never free. :)

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    20 Responses to “Suze Orman’s Will & Trust Kit Review”

    1. EN says:

      Thanks for the review. I signed up earlier but haven’t gone through the process. Do you plan on talking to an estate attorney in the near future or wait awhile?

      Either way, please keep up updated on how the process works. Thanks!

    2. jim says:

      I’ll likely wait a little while, probably until we have kids, because there really is no rush at the moment. I will post it as it happens though.

    3. jdoe says:

      I purchases the Wills and Trust pkg on-line and it was worthless. The program kept locking up. Everytime I went to log back in – its states that the information is invalid. As for technical support – it is non-existent. What a waste of money and time. Suze Orman should spend some of her money fixing the problems with her webpage versus touting how great all of her program are.

    4. William Gross says:

      I paid for a kit but have not recieved it and wnt to know what to do next. Thank you Billbb

    5. Chip says:

      I’m a wills, trusts, and estate attorney in Maryland. There has been recent discussion about this and other “estate planning kits” on estates and trusts discussion groups, complete with horror stories (one attorney was dealing with a $200,000 mistake as the result of a $13.95 kit). These kits are not written to take into account the differences between the laws of different states. In fact, this kit is based on and applies the law of California – one of only nine community property states! I think almost any MD attorney would disagree with the notion of an automatic revocable living trust for estates over $30k. Often the cost to review these kits (and undo the damage) would exceed the cost to draft from scratch. On second thought, go ahead and buy the kit so I can afford that vacation I need!

      • DoraLee says:

        It’s exactly that ‘need a vacation’ greed-driven attitude that makes people wants to deal with software instead of paying a lawyer.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Chip another idiot overpaid lawyer.. Hopefully lawyers will start to choke and bring there rates down to at least a low paid hooker.

    7. Chip says:

      Anon -

      You have no idea what my rates are, how much time I give away pro bono, and how many breaks I cut for my clients. I’m sure there are plenty of hookers with a higher hourly rate. But you go ahead and use the Suze kit — we’ll fix everything the best we can after you’re gone.

      • Jim says:

        As much as it may hurt to pay a lawyer’s rate, there’s a reason why they charge those rates: they provide value in excess of the rate. If they didn’t, the cost of a lawyer would go down, it’s just how the market works.

    8. tj says:

      If Suzy Orman is so bad with finances and money, how is it she is so successful and have such a following. I disagree with the statement that her kit is not set up for different state guidelines. When I went through the program it advised it was specific to my state and I could also chose any state to compare. I plan to use it as a guideline and then present the data to an attorney for final reveiw, as suggested by Suze. I guess we could all sit on our thumbs and let the state give it to whoever when we leave, after they take their fair share for that service. I agree that it could save time and money when approaching an attorney for review/completion.

    9. Anonymous says:

      Suze , I would like to thank you for the free trust and will that you offered on your show ,we sure took advantage of it. You have a heart of gold. My husband and I watch your program and learn. Janice and Gary

    10. Orestes says:

      I was not able to get the so-called Will kit with the instructions you gave. It seems it requires you to sign in into her Web site or something.

    11. mikestreb says:

      I signed up for this a while back when they had one of the free coupon codes out. I have yet to try it. Sounds confusing. I am young so I hope I don’t need any of this stuff in the near future. I will prob go back and look it over after I get married.

    12. Steve says:

      Having seen what $2500 buys for an in house job and seeing what $14 buys I would have to say that I can’t find a whole lot of difference in the docs presented (both California). The lawyer I consulted wanted $3000 for a revocable trust and $600 for the POAs, Wills and LWs. Even if I simply do the latter I will save a bundle. The RT is something I’ll look at pretty close, but unless I find something that says there is a problem with my state’s part of Orman’s stuff (and I’ve looked) this will likely work for me.

    13. mat says:

      Well I agree the website documentation for help in non-existent and as helpful as a guy on the side of the street with his paper bag of wine…I am knowledgeable with the laws in MA. and the form being generated did not handle any of the statues needed to watch out for. Visiting the attorney cost me more with this “kit help” than just asking the attorney for a checklist before visiting made more sense. Let’s all realize that even your TAX ACCOUNTANT gives you a checklist to prepare for taxes at no cost!!! Why pay for an organizer form that is inaccurate???? DUH! No telephone technical help at her site…no on staff legal help….a plastic case, paper file folder, and 4-CDs with no…no..no..instructions about what is on the cds in the kit. This is a no brainer…

    14. Cathy says:

      I had an attorney do a will/trust for me and I put money down, then they went through that, and got billed for all kinds of hours. Six years later I redid my docs. using the Free Online, and it is better than the first. The notary who has law experience and my financial advisor was impressed. I generated two separate property trusts, a marital trust two pour over wills, two health care directives, all notarized for free. My brokerage firm provided the notary. My advisor afterward told me he used LegalZoom, but could not advise me to do that or any online. He said my docs were great. They are revokable, amendable, so if I made a mistake or my situation changes I can fix it without spending a few more thousand dollars.

    15. M. HOLTZ says:

      when making changes to revocable ttust. do yu print out new paperwork and have notarized. i am at a loss keep asking your tech support with no help.

    16. rmnl says:

      Just an FYI… My dad set up a living trust for his estate using “self-help” docs and no attorney. He had several assets including different real estate holdings, stocks and bonds, etc. After he died, I had my mom go to an attorney to check and make sure all the docs were done correctly. Paid the attorney $5000 for the “help”. She didn’t need to change anything. Mom has since died and the trust was executed without a glitch!

    17. Arkansas Estate Planning Attorney says:

      I am an attorney with 35 years of specialized practice in Estate Planning and Probate. My policy is to never review one of these kit Wills or Trust, but I was curious.
      I agree with most of the criticisms above. I have seen several similar kits, and this one was definitely not among the better ones.
      A trust had been created from the one I examined. A will was also prepared which is standard practice. In this case, however, provisions in will would have required that it be probated even though there was a Trust.
      Worse, yet, was the fact that failing to probate the Will might have resulted in some very severe violations of federal law.
      I equate the wisdom of “do-it-yourself” wills and trusts with “do-it-yourself” tooth extractions. You can do it, but it will hurt more in the long run; and if you do it wrong, the added expense will hurt even worse.


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