How to Make a Will Without a Lawyer

There are options for making a will without a lawyer, including online will makers and DIY wills.
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You don’t need a lawyer to make a will, but ​​there are some basic requirements to follow. You can handwrite a legally valid will in most states, or an online will maker can walk you through the process and help ensure your will meets your state’s requirements.

An estate planning attorney can also help ensure that your will meets the required legal standards and covers all of your needs, but costs can range from a few hundred to over $1,000, depending on the complexity of your assets — which isn’t in everyone’s budget.

Here’s what to know about how to make a will without a lawyer, how much it costs to make one and our top picks for online will writing software. Some online will makers even provide access to state-specific attorneys.

How do I make my own will?

Here are seven steps to think about.

1. Find out if your state allows holographic (handwritten) wills that haven’t been witnessed or notarized. This is the easiest way to write a will, and it’s free, but holographic wills may not be valid in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington or Wisconsin. Exact requirements can vary by state, though, including exceptions for active military

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Holographic Will. Accessed Sep 11, 2023.
.

Advertisement
Trust & Will - Will

GoodTrust

LegalZoom - Last Will

Price (one-time)

Will: one-time fee of $199 per individual or $299 for couples. Trust: one-time fee of $499 per individual or $599 for couples.

Price (one-time)

$149 for estate plan bundle. Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to $10.

Price (one-time)

Will: $199 for Basic, $299 for Premium with attorney assist. Trust: $499 for Basic, $599 for Premium with attorney assist.

Price (annual)

$19 annual membership fee.

Price (annual)

$39

Price (annual)

$199 per year for attorney assistance after the first year.

Access to attorney support

Yes

Access to attorney support

No

Access to attorney support

Yes

2. Make sure your will meets your state’s requirements to be valid. Whether you’re writing it yourself or with the help of an online will maker, make sure it meets the legal standards to pass through your state’s probate court. Generally, you must be over the age of 18, of sound mind and have your will signed by at least two witnesses or notarized.

3. Properly account for your assets. You might want to have your assets appraised to determine their value. Be sure you understand what happens to assets that you jointly own or accounts on which you already have named a beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy.

4. Name your beneficiaries. Your will should detail as specifically as possible who you want to receive each of your assets, including each beneficiary’s full legal name and their relationship to you. This can reduce confusion when your will is settled.

5. Name an executor. An executor is the person who will settle your estate during the probate process and make sure your assets go to the right beneficiaries according to your wishes. This can be a person you trust, but it can also be a bank or trust company you work with.

» Who distributes the assets in your estate? Learn about the probate process

6. Get your will signed by witnesses or notarized. Know what you need to do to make your will official. In many states, for example, you’ll need signatures from two witnesses

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Wills: Attestation Requirement. Accessed Sep 12, 2023.
. In Colorado and North Dakota, for instance, you can have your will signed by a notary public instead . Louisiana requires both witness and notary signatures .

7. Update your will if anything changes. An outdated will may cause issues if it’s not properly updated. If you get married or divorced, have children or grandchildren or buy or sell a significant asset, consider adding a codicil to your document — or just write a new will from scratch. Some online will makers offer free updates; others require a monthly or annual membership to make changes.

How much does it cost to make a will without a lawyer?

A do-it-yourself will can cost you nothing. Some online services are free, and others can cost up to a few hundred dollars.

Online Will Maker

Best for

Cost

Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker (Read our Quicken WillMaker review)

Users who want an all-inclusive experience.

  • $99 per year for Starter plan.

  • $139 per year for Plus plan.

  • $209 per year for All Access plan.

GoodTrust

Digital assets.

  • $149 for estate plan bundle or trust plan bundle.

  • $39 per year after that.

  • Bundles include a will, living trust, advance directives and funeral and pet directives.

Trust & Will (Read our Trust & Will review)

Ease of use.

  • One-time fee of $159 per individual or $259 for couples.

  • $19 annual membership fee thereafter.

Rocket Lawyer (Read our Rocket Lawyer Online Will review)

Customer service.

  • Free will template.

  • $39.99 monthly for changes and legal support.

LegalZoom (Read our LegalZoom review)

State-specific legal advice.

  • $119 for Basic will plan.

  • $299 for Premium will plan.

  • $499 for Basic trust plan.

  • $599 for Premium trust plan.

Do Your Own Will (Read our Do Your Own Will review)

Free will software.

$0.

Fabric by Gerber Life (Read our Fabric by Gerber Life review)

Young families.

$0.

Compare online will makers

Company
NerdWallet
rating
Price
(one-time)
Price
(annual)
Access to
attorney support
Learn more
Ease of use
Trust & Will - Will
Trust & Will - Will
Get started

on Trust & Will's website

Will: one-time fee of $199 per individual or $299 for couples. Trust: one-time fee of $499 per individual or $599 for couples. $19 annual membership fee.Yes
Get started

on Trust & Will's website

Digital Assets
GoodTrust
GoodTrust
Get started

on GoodTrust's website

$149 for estate plan bundle. Promotion: NerdWallet users can save up to $10.$39No
Get started

on GoodTrust's website

Comprehensive services
Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker - WillMaker
Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker - WillMaker
Get started

on Nolo's website

None$99 to $209 per year.No
Get started

on Nolo's website

State-specific legal advice
LegalZoom - Last Will
LegalZoom - Last Will
Get started

on LegalZoom's website

Will: $199 for Basic, $299 for Premium with attorney assist. Trust: $499 for Basic, $599 for Premium with attorney assist.$199 per year for attorney assistance after the first year.Yes
Get started

on LegalZoom's website

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