It’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:
- Go to SuzeOrman.com 
- Click on Will & Trust Kit in the left sidebar menu
- 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 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).
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
- 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!)
For 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:
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Final Instructions Form – “Use this form to let your loved ones know your wishes regarding your funeral, burial, or cremation.”
- 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.”
- 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. 🙂