FreeWill is an online estate planning tool that allows you to create or update a legally binding will. It offers products such as the ability to document funeral wishes, create a durable financial power of attorney, advance healthcare directives (living wills) and give charitable contributions from your retirement or stock brokerage account. As the company’s name implies, FreeWill’s services are completely free. Funding comes from FreeWill’s partnership with more than 100 nonprofit organizations who sponsor these services. You can access the service online, giving users the ability to change or download their will at any time without needing to create a new one.
If you’d like a professional to help with your estate plan, consider working with a financial advisor.
|Pros||– Fairly robust service for free|
– Online service, so you can create and update at any time
|Cons||– No live support|
– Smaller range of products
|Best For||– Those looking for a cheap option|
– Anyone who’s doing charitable giving
FreeWill: Services & Features
For a completely no-cost service, FreeWill’s offerings are fairly robust.
First, it can cover an individual’s most important needs for a last will and testament. The website offers a questionnaire via an easy-to-use interface, asking basic information as well as other pertinent details such as current income, family information and whether users have any children or pets that they’d like to cover in their will.
For users who need to create an advance healthcare directive (also known as a living will), filling out the form will involve answering questions about some personal information, selecting a preferred physician and hospital for end-of-life care as well as selecting an agent or healthcare proxy. Then users can share what they need to about the values they wish to be upheld and other specific instructions, before finalizing with signatures and any further instructions specific to their state.
For a durable financial power of attorney, individuals will need to provide some personal information and also select an agent or agents to make financial decisions for them if they become unable to do so. Then users can choose the powers that any agent(s) will be allowed to exercise, list any specific limitations and provide other important details (i.e. compensation, monitors, guardians, revocation and how documents will be executed).
Additionally, in keeping with its commitment to charitable giving, FreeWill offers individuals ways to give a charitable contribution from a retirement account or a stock brokerage account.
FreeWill: Pricing and Fees
|Membership Tiers||Free for individuals|
FreeWill’s pricing model is straightforward, as it is free to use for individuals. As an individual user, you can draft your will, durable financial power of attorney or advanced healthcare directive online.
Funding comes from FreeWill’s partnership with more than 100 nonprofit organizations who sponsor these services. Nonprofit organizations can learn more about a range of tools that FreeWill offers – like a Bequest Tool, a Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD Tool) and a Stock Gifts Tool – in order to make gifts easier for both supporters to give and organizations to receive.
FreeWill: User Support
FreeWill’s website offers a streamlined design that’s fairly easy to use. For a last will and testament, its questionnaire form is divided into parts. Users can track their progress so they know how many sections remain to fill out. For services such as advance healthcare directives and durable financial power of attorney, the site outlines the form sections and the information you’ll need to gather before you begin.
If you’re looking for immediate support from customer support representatives, FreeWill unfortunately does not provide this kind of a feature. It does, however, have a contact page as well as a help center page where users can find the answers to some frequently asked questions addressing troubleshooting and technical issues.
Thanks to insight from experts around the country, FreeWill says it makes sure that a user’s will complies with each state’s specific legal requirements. Of course, FreeWill makes it clear that it is not a law firm and therefore cannot provide legal advice. If you need to enlist the services of a professional attorney or even a professional financial advisor, you should do so separately.
FreeWill: Online Experience
FreeWill does not have any further mobile or online platforms available through its service. All the final documents will be available to users once they finalize the questionnaire process. There is no app or other software that a user would need to download. Given the company’s no-cost pricing model, this is probably to be expected.
How Does FreeWill Stack Up?
Comparing FreeWill to Other Services
|FreeWill||– Free for individuals||– Last will & testament, durable financial power of attorney, advance healthcare directive, charitable contributions|
– No legal services or support
|– Online desktop|
|– TotalLegal||– $14.95 – $19.95 for legal documents|
– TotalLegal Plan subscription $89/year or $9.95/month
|– Create documents|
– Legal services from attorneys, with subscription
– Document storage vault service, with subscription
|– Online desktop|
|– Tomorrow app||– Mobile app free for families|
– Free for employees covered by employers who buy Tomorrow Plus plans
– $39.99/year for Tomorrow Plus plan not through employer
|– Creation of estate planning documents, such as will, trust, healthcare directive, power of attorney|
– App allows users to connect with family members and make decisions together
– No legal services or support
|– Mobile app|
The biggest difference FreeWill has over competitors is its emphasis on charitable giving. It boasts a number of free services as a result of that.
Overall, FreeWill is an easy-to-use website that helps those who are looking to have an official last will and testament the ability to create a simple one using their online forms. The service – including certain other end-of-life planning forms such as a durable financial power of attorney or a living will – is free to use for individuals, with an emphasis on charitable giving driving the company’s ethos and business model. While 24-hour support or live customer representative or legal support is not available with free will, its website allows users to create an account, begin and have their specific forms in just minutes – and also allows them to log in, update and download forms again at any time.
Estate Planning Tips
- If you’re seeking more detailed advice in addition to your own estate planning steps, you may want to consider reaching out to a financial advisor. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Estate planning is all about looking ahead and mapping out your plan as best as possible. If you’re going the DIY route, make sure you’re aware of the possible financial consequences. Read more about the dangers of DIY estate planning and five estate planning mistakes you can’t afford to make.
Photo credit: FreeWill.com