Trust & Will Review: Stress-free and affordable estate planning

Trust & Will makes estate-planning easy, with affordable wills and trusts documents for people who don't have a legal background.

Published February 28, 2019

While the subject of your mortality isn’t the most pleasant topic to dwell on, it’s important for all adults to plan for their death. Legal estate-planning documents such as wills and trusts define what happens after you die, including how your assets will be distributed, what happens to your minor children, and even your final arrangements.

If you die without a plan in place, determining what happens to your estate can be a long, drawn-out process. Disputes could arise among family members and decisions could be made in the courts, whether or not they reflect your wishes.

But hiring a lawyer to create your estate plan can be prohibitively expensive; it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars for especially complex estates. Online estate-planning service Trust & Will can help you create a legal will at a fraction of the cost. But how does it actually work, and how do you know if it’s for you?

Here’s how Trust & Will can help you plan for what happens after you pass away.

What Trust & Will provides

According to Trust & Will, the service enables you to create customized legal documents, specific to your state of residence, in five to 15 minutes. These documents contain decisions regarding your estate, medical-related directions, and instructions for what happens to your children and pets.

Trust & Will provides three major services: trusts, wills and nomination of guardians. You can create a shared account with your spouse and even create a will for a spouse or parents. The “testator,” the person for whom the will is created, will need to review, approve and sign the document once it is written.

Trusts

The trust-based estate plan allows you to bequeath assets to survivors by setting them aside in a trust. Unlike a will, assets in a trust can usually bypass time-consuming and costly probate process that oversees the administration of a deceased person’s estate.

Some of the trust documents provided by Trust & Will are:

  • Revocable living trust: the main body of your estate plan that provides instructions for how to administer, control and distribute your assets.
  • Schedule of assets: a list of assets that are included in your trust; these can be changed as your assets evolve over time.
  • Pour-over will: a document that transfers all property not named in your living trust into the trust after your death. This property must still pass through probate before it is transferred to your trust. (Read more about pour-over wills.)

Wills

The will contains plans for your estate and medical-related directions. Unlike trusts, wills must move through probate for your estate to be properly administered. The unique legal document included in a will is:

  • Last will and testament: defines how your possessions and assets will be distributed after you die, and who will care for your minor children and pets.
  • Medical power of attorney: designates an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf when you can’t make those decisions yourself.

Nomination of Guardian

The nomination of guardian is one of the most important aspects of planning for your death - it determines who will care for your children. While guardians are already defined in most wills, this is a good option to make sure your kids are will be cared for when you haven’t had the time or inclination to complete a full estate plan.

In addition to the services outlined above, Trust & Will can also help you make the following documents:

  • HIPAA authorization: gives specific individuals the permission to receive your private health records.
  • Living will: states your wishes for healthcare and medical treatment when you can’t dictate those decisions yourself. (Read more about living wills.)

How to create and validate a will with Trust & Will

Creating the will

Once you decide to sign up for Trust & Will’s service, you’ll need to create an account on https://trustandwill.com/ using your email or signing in via Facebook or Google. You’ll answer a few basic questions about the value of your assets, your kids and pets, and choose which product you want (trust, will or nomination of guardian).

To build your legal documents, you will be asked to provide the following information (required information varies based on which document you are creating):

  • Basic personal information about you, your family, dependents and pets.
  • Basic information about your assets for the purposes of a trust.
  • The guardians you wish to take care of your minor children and/or pets.
  • The executor of your estate, who is responsible for carrying out your will, administering your estate, and taking care of any remaining financial obligations. (Read more about the role of the executor.)
  • The beneficiaries who will receive the assets of your estate, and whether you want to make specific bequests to some beneficiaries.
  • Health-related decisions like advance directives and medical power of attorney.
  • Your decisions for final arrangements, including what to do with your remains, preferences for a funeral or ceremony and other details.

You will have the ability to supply additional information about your assets to help the executor and beneficiaries distribute and collect your estate.

During the process, Trust & Will provides online guidance and you’ll have access to real-time chat support with their customer service team.

Trust & Will will take the information you provide and use it to create your documents using templates that have been built by their legal team and are customized to meet the legal requirements of your state. At this point you will be able to review your documents.

Validating the documents

Once your documents are created, you will need to pay for them:

  • Individual wills cost $69, and you can add a spouse for an additional $60.
  • Trusts start at $399, and you can add a spouse for an additional $100.
  • Nomination of guardians cost $39, and you can add a spouse for and additional $10.

Trusts and wills must be signed before they become legal. While each state has its own requirements, the typical process involves you signing the documents in the presence of two witnesses. (You should also get it notarized so that it holds up in court after you die.)

Trust & Will can ship you the documents at no extra charge, so you can sign and have the will witnessed and notarized at your convenience. Once this process is done, your documents are fully legal.

You should keep your documents in a safe place, and tell a trusted individual or individuals (including the executor of your estate) where they are kept. You can also make and distribute copies of your legal documents.

You may need to update your documents after life changes such as the birth of children, getting married or divorced, and other significant events. This is sometimes called adding a codicil. When changes need to be made, simply log in to your account to get started. You get free updates for a full year after creating your documents; after that, you can subscribe to unlimited updates for $10 per year.

If you are unsatisfied with your completed documents, you can request a full refund within 30 days.

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The pros and cons of Trust & Will

The primary benefits of Trust & Will are convenience, price and speed, which make legal documents accessible to folks who may not have the time or money to hire a lawyer.

  • Convenience: the entire process of creating your documents can be completed from a computer.
  • Price: Trust & Will is far cheaper than hiring a lawyer.
  • Speed: because the documents are created from templates and you aren’t directly working with a lawyer, the process is fast — ranging from five to 15 minutes, according to Trust & Will.

Compared to some competitors, Trust & Will offers a lot of bang for your buck, including very comprehensive, straightforward services for reasonable prices. They don’t require subscriptions or make you pick and choose from a large, confusing menu of legal documents, which can be overwhelming for anyone who isn’t well versed in estate planning. Everything you need is included in one package.

However, there are some drawbacks to the process. Online legal services aren’t for everyone.

  • Trust & Will uses legal experts and attorneys to create its documents, but it cannot provide legal advice or consultations. If you want the personal experience and custom advice provided by an attorney-client relationship, you won’t get it here.
  • Individuals with a high net worth, complicated assets, or unique demands may need the guidance of an attorney.
  • Any information you share with Trust & Will is not protected under attorney-client privilege.

Bottom line

If you want the personal experience and guidance provided by hiring a lawyer (and you have the means to hire one), this may be the better option. But if you need a simple will, trust or nomination of guardian to ensure your wishes are followed after your death, Trust & Will can get the job done.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by a certified financial planner or advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, financial, or investment advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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