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Willing review: should you write your will online?

Est. 7 min read

The hardest thing about getting people to buy into life insurance is getting them to talk about life insurance in the first place. If there are two topics that really bum people out, it’s money and death.

That’s why we here at PolicyGenius can empathize with what Willing is trying to do: modernize something that people really don’t want to talk about but is also really important. Willing wants to bring will creation online and make it easier than ever.

If you’re like me, you might be skeptical of a service like Willing; can creating a will really be as simple as logging onto a website?

Turns out it’s even easier than I thought.

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What exactly does Willing do?

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Willing lets you create a legally-binding will online in a few minutes by filling out some personal information about yourself. It’s free to use if you’re creating a last will and testament, but you can create a living will and power of attorney document by upgrading for a flat $19 fee.

The entire thing takes place online. You don’t have to jump on a phone call or submit information that needs to be reviewed, processed, and sent back; you enter information about yourself and what you’re leaving to people and once you’re done, Willing generates a will by plugging in your information.

Willing makes creating a will available to everyone, and aims to do so without making you feel overwhelmed.

Getting started with Willing

When I was getting ready for this review, I thought, “Well, I should obviously go through the whole process of creating a will. This might take a while. Time to settle in and get to work.”

Less than fifteen minutes later, I was done.

That’s because Willing is incredibly easy to use, even for someone like me who has never thought of what I’d leave behind. I was able to jump right in.

It starts with the aesthetics, which seems like a small thing to be impressed with, but it really makes a difference. From the moment you go to Willing’s website, you know it’ll be easy to use. The layout is clean and it isn’t bogged down with legal jargon or iTunes-terms-of-service-level walls of text that you can only assume are trying to trick you into agreeing to something you normally wouldn’t.

The plain English explanations continue when you begin to actually create your will. Signing up requires only an email address and a password, and then you head straight into providing information about yourself.

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Considering it will all be translated into legalese in the finished document, it’s kind of amazing how much the Willing team is able to simplify the information you need to provide. You’ll go through standard will actions like leaving specific gifts (car, jewelry, real estate, and so on), naming recipients, determining end-of-life treatment, and determining your final arrangements, all plainly stated.

As morbid as it sounds, that last part was one of the most interesting. You’re shown options like cremation or ground burial, but you’re also given information on how many people choose a specific options, the estimated cost, and additional details like where your ashes should be spread or whether or not you want a memorial service. It highlighted how Willing’s interface stayed intuitive and easy to use even as additional options were provided, and it never got so complicated that I wasn’t sure what I was doing on a given step.

Providing all of this information was simple, and someone at Willing has been paying attention to 21st century design trends. Fields are large, clearly labeled, and easy to find, and most of the options you’ll choose only require clicking a big, minimalist image. There’s not a step that’s busy, and that let me fly through the process; I knew instantly what and where my options were so there was no hunting down or deciphering any of the steps. It was more in line with using the latest app or streaming service than creating a legal document.

And speaking of apps: Willing is fully optimized for mobile and looks equally great on a phone, so you can even create a will on the go.

One thing that would have been nice is a support or FAQ section. Some of the steps have help popups, but besides that the only place to go with questions is emailing Willing directly. It’s not a huge issue considering how straightforward everything was, but as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Seeing common questions that I might not have thought of could have been helpful – it’s not a deal breaker, but it would have added that extra layer of confidence.

Once you’re done with your will…well, then you’re done.

You can review your information – simply divided into your personal information, your wishes on property and final arrangements, and who’s going to be in charge of your will – and then you can view and download your will in PDF format, which you’ll need to do to get it signed by witnesses and get it notarized. Willing even gives tips on this: did you know you can schedule an appointment with a notary by contacting your local UPS Store? Plus, Willing will send you an annual reminder to update your documents so you can be sure they always have the latest information after any big life changes.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can upgrade your free account for a few additional features. For $19, you can create a living will and a power of attorney document. These aren’t required, and you can stop right where you are with a completed will having not paid a cent, but if you want these other documents, Willing can be a one-stop shop.

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Who are Willing’s competitors?

I decided to check out a few other sites to see how their will-creation process stacked up to Willing’s. There aren’t many providers that work exclusively in wills, but there are other sites that allow you to create wills along with other legal documents.

LegalZoom is probably the most popular. It has a similar setup as far as creating your will, but with some caveats. While you enter much of the same information, the process is full of drop down menus and narrow text fields that make filling it out seem like a chore. Then there’s a $69 fee for basic will generation (compared to Willing’s free tier or $19 upgraded plan) and you can only revise your document for 30 days after purchase.

Rocket Lawyer is another online legal document creator. It didn’t seem as comprehensive as Willing was – for example, nothing addressed final arrangements when I created a will with Rocket Lawyer – and, again, you have to pay to access your finished document. It’s only $5, but after seeing what Willing provides for free, it’s more an issue of principle.

There’s nothing wrong with any of the other sites I used, but they made creating a will what I assumed it would be when I began: a tedious hassle. I won’t say Willing made making a will fun (it’s still a document about when I die, after all) but it was tolerable and made it feel like this is the way it should be done in 2015.

One obvious alternative to Willing is taking the process offline. It’s perfectly fine to sit down with an attorney and planning your will – people have done it that way for centuries, after all – but it comes with some downsides. It can be expensive, and you have to schedule a time to physically meet with someone.

Still, there’s something comforting about knowing that someone with an actual law degree is working with you if you’ve got the time and inclination to go through with it.

Should you create your will with Willing?

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A will is a pretty big deal. After all, it outlines what will happen to you near the end of your life, where your assets go when you’re gone, and more. If you want to sit down with a lawyer and walk through the process, I don’t blame you.

But if you are looking for a standard will, just to get some details down on paper about what happens when you’re gone, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time or money on it, Willing is definitely the way to go.

Willing is easy enough for anyone to use. If you can navigate a website, you can get a will created over your lunch break. While there are other sites out there to create a will online, Willing was simply the quickest, most intuitive (and prettiest) option available.

Disclosure: We may use affiliate codes when linking to third parties. These codes earn us a small commission, but their presence does not influence which services or apps we choose to recommend, or our reviews of them.
Published on December 2, 2015

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Colin Lalley writes for PolicyGenius, a digital insurance brokerage trying to make sense of insurance for consumers. He previously wrote for Lulu Press.
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