Should I get a free will?

A free will that follows all the requirements set out by state law can be just as legal as will created by an attorney

Elissa

By

Elissa Suh

Elissa Suh

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

Elissa Suh is a disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius, where she also covered wills, trusts, and advance planning. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

Updated|3 min read

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While you can ask a lawyer to prepare your will, you can also get one for free. The most common ways to get a free will are writing one on your own or downloading a template. Depending on the service that you use, free wills may only offer the bare minimum and may not be personalized to your needs. 

For a more ironclad estate plan, you may want to consider paying for a will. The cost may be worth it in the end to ensure that your chosen beneficiaries and loved ones receive the inheritance you set aside for them. you can get a free will with Policygenius using tools are attorney-approved and tailored to your state's laws.

A poorly constructed will can be contested in court, or invalidated altogether, during probate, which can ultimately delay how long it takes to settle your estate, causing unnecessary stress and costs for your loved ones and potentially depriving some of an inheritance.

Key takeaways

  • Free wills can be valid as long as they meet a state's legal requirements.

  • A poorly written will could be thrown out in probate court.

  • If you get a free will, make sure it's specific to your state and that the service providing the will has been vetted by attorneys.

Using free will forms

Getting a free will most commonly means downloading a form or template and filling in the blanks with your personal information and details, like beneficiaries and bequests (what assets they should receive). The benefit of getting a free will is that you don't have to pay for anything, but the cheap cost could mean that you're getting the most bare-bones version of a legal document. 

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A free will template may be one-size-fits-all, and may not be customizable to the extent that you need to provide for your estate. 

 → Get a more detailed look at how much a will costs

Are free wills valid?

Free wills are legitimate only if they are made in accordance with state law. For example, it's fairly common for a will to include a statement of testamentary capacity, or a declaration that the person writing the will is of sound mind. Another standard requirement for written wills is that they're signed by witnesses and the person who wrote the will (formally known as the testator).

→ Learn more about the requirements for a valid will

If you are getting a free will, make sure to thoroughly vet the service you're using or whoever is providing the template. You should try to get a will that's specifically made for your area, since state will laws can vary. 

An ambiguous will that isn't air tight, regardless of the price, can complicate things once you pass away when the will must be authenticated by the probate court. In the worst case scenario, your free will could be invalid, leaving the court to determine the fate of your assets and property based on state intestacy law. Making an will that doesn’t stand up in court could be as disastrous as if you had never written a will in the first place.

→ Learn more about consequences of dying without a will 

Alternatives to a free last will and testament form

A free will might be a good option for people who have very little in the way of assets and cannot afford to pay for a will. Other people, including those with a few high value assets, many assets or beneficiaries, or questions about their estate plan, may feel safer paying for a will and some getting some extra guidance. 

Two other ways to write a will are:

  • Using an online service

  • Hiring an estate attorney

Online wills can be just as legal as those made by an attorney, and they almost always cost less, too. An online will service may allow for more personalization of your will or let you add other estate planning documents

People with more complex needs (like people who receive government benefits or need asset protection) may still need to pay for a will by hiring a lawyer, which can cost up to thousands of dollars.

 → Find out if should hire an need an estate attorney

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Author

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

Elissa Suh

Senior Editor & Disability Insurance Expert

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Elissa Suh is a disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius, where she also covered wills, trusts, and advance planning. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, CNBC, PBS, Inverse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and more.

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