Should My Daughters Use a Website like LegalZoom for their Estate Planning?
I’d appreciate your opinion on whether my two daughters should have wills, and if so, whether they should create them using software such as LegalZoom or Quicken WillMaker versus having a lawyer do this for them. Here’s the relevant information about their situations:
- Brenda and Alicia recently turned 30 (they’re twins) and are in good health.
- Both live near us in North Carolina and work full-time.
- Brenda owns a townhouse, while Alicia rents an apartment.
- Neither is married, but both have boyfriends. Brenda just moved in with hers, while Alicia lives separately.
- Both have checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts. I would guess that the total balances are in the $50K-$100K range (each).
- Both own cars (Alicia’s is a 2015 Mazda CX-5, while Brenda’s is a 2015 Toyota Camry). I don’t think Brenda has a car loan; Alicia might.
- Neither one has any school loans.
- In addition to Brenda’s mortgage, we lent her $15K towards her down payment.
What do you recommend?
It sounds like both your daughters are doing very well; congratulations. I think in their case online programs such as the ones you suggest would be fine. Their assets are relatively straightforward. They don’t have complicated tax issues or family situations. It’s most important that they have durable powers of attorney and health care directives, which should be part of any estate planning package.
It could get a bit more complicated if either were to buy a home with her boyfriend. In Brenda’s case, it sounds like her boyfriend lives in her townhouse. If she would want the townhouse to go to her boyfriend but to make sure you were repaid the loan you extended to her, this could involve some more complicated drafting than may be offered by the online programs. Or she may want to make certain that her boyfriend had a reasonable amount of time to move, which she could either put in her will or simply rely on you and her sister to do the right thing.
So, in short, I think at this point an online program should be fine for your daughters and I encourage them to take this step. This could be through LegalZoom, or one of the other on-line estate planning services such as TrustandWill.com, Quicken WillMaker, RocketLawyer.com or FreeWill.com.