Your Last Will and Testament

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Friday 15th October 2010
In this article
  • Do you need a will?
  • Where to go online.
  • What’s involved in preparing an online will.

The average guy you meet in the locker room may not have a will and has probably never thought about preparing one. However, recent events in New York, Washington, D.C. and rural Pennsylvania have prompted many people to rethink what will happen to their loved ones and assets if they pass away sooner than expected — a huge wake-up call for those who assumed a life span of 80+ years and the luxury of settling their estate in the way, way distant future.

Suddenly SharpMen and SharpWomen of all ages are thinking about drafting a will and "estate planning." The question is, how do you do it? Do you have to see a lawyer? Will it be expensive? Check out these SharpWork facts on preparing your will on the cheap and easy:

Wait, What "Estate?!?!?!"

OK, so perhaps you haven’t closed on that two-story, five-car garage corner house, but you do have stuff and that stuff is, for now, your "estate." With a will you help your surviving relatives divvy up the goods while making sure your wishes are carried out. And, if you’re married or have children, by taking a few simple steps today you can ease the burden for your family at a stressful time.

The good news is that preparing a legal will has never been easier. Sure, you could see a lawyer or paralegal, miss work and pay big bucks, or you can prepare a will online — 24 hours a day — by answering a few questions, paying a reasonable fee and leaving the rest to "your" capable legal staff. Your application is processed within 48 hours, when you receive reliable legal documentation that you can count on.

One of the most prominent and highly recognized (i.e., lots of awards and kudos from big names like the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and more) online will preparation Web sites is LegalZoom.com. LegalZoom is composed of a team of top-name attorneys from the most prestigious law firms in America. Remember Robert Shapiro from the O.J. Simpson case? He’s one of LegalZoom’s four co-founders.

LegalZoom’s fees are charged "per project" as opposed to the typical attorney rate of "per hour" — saving you 85 percent or more off the rate of traditional legal assistance. To get the skinny on the online world of will preparation, SharpMan.com caught up with co-founder and president of LegalZoom, Brian Lee, and got some one-on-one advice as to why you would want to have a will and why you should have a will. Of course, then he told us how to get one…

SM: What are the advantages of preparing a will online?

Brian: LegalZoom is accessible 24 hours a day. There’s no need to take time out of your busy schedule to meet with an attorney. It’s fast, convenient and simple.

SM: Is it a real legal document?

Brian: LegalZoom’s documents such as "Last Wills and Testaments" are legally valid in all 50 states. You receive the will via e-mail, with financial instructions on what to do to legalize the document. For instance, you need to sign it in the presence of witnesses and get the pages notarized.

SM: How does it compare cost-wise with traditional will preparation?

Brian: A traditional attorney will charge an average of $350 for a will. LegalZoom charges only $55 for a basic will.

SM: Is the process complicated? What information will I need?

Brian: It’s a very simple process. Simply answer a few questions online, such as whom you want to be the executor of your estate [SM: an executor is the person in charge of handling your estate affairs after you pass away] and whom you want to leave your assets to.

SM: Do I really need to be thinking about a will if I’m only in my early twenties?

Brian: Every adult should have a will. Although it may seem like you don’t have many assets, a will makes everything easier if you pass away. Probate court can drag on for quite some time if you’re not properly protected. In addition, if you have children the court will decide who will care for them. In a will, you can name who the guardian of your children will be. Also, you will be surprised at how much you do have once you really think about it.

SM: Is my information secure/encrypted?

Brian: The information you provide is protected under the highest encrypted security. LegalZoom has won numerous awards for security.

SM: OK, so I’m ready to create a will. How do I get started?

Brian: You simply log in at LegalZoom.com, answer some questions and we do the rest. We print out your document, review your answers for completeness and consistency and mail you your document with final instructions. We have a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.

SM: Why should I choose LegalZoom.com?

Brian: LegalZoom is the premier online legal document service center. Thousands of individuals have used LegalZoom to prepare their own Last Wills and Testaments. We are the number one legal document site. We also have law libraries with free information regarding wills and other legal processes. In addition, we have commentaries from some of the greatest legal minds in our country, as well as legal tips for everyone. To obtain more information and to start preparing your will, go to www.legalzoom.com.

LegalZoom can also take care of other common legal matters, such as divorce, prenuptial, living trust, trademarks, copyrights, living wills, corporations, restraining orders and LLC organizations.

This article last updated on Friday 15th October 2010
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