Step-by-Step Plan to Ensure your Legacy

Our goal here at TrustedWill is to provide you with the tools you need to help ensure that your final wishes are followed as you desire. There can be many issues when it comes to estate plans and probate. TrustedWill provides tools and services to help eliminate these potential problems.

How TrustedWill Works

TrustedWill is a document storage and distribution service designed specifically to help eliminate common problems that people have with their estate documents. Our step-by-step guide will help you ensure your wishes are carried out in the fashion you desire.

Step 1: Make sure you HAVE an Estate Plan and it is up to date.

The first, and unfortuantely, far too common problem is that many people do not have a Will at all, or if they do have one, it is badly outdated and needs be brought up to date. TrustedWill has a free online Will Builder that makes it easy for you to create your Will and update it as necessary. In addition to creating your Will, there are also free tools that allow you to easily create other important estate documents, such as a durable power of attorney, advanced health directives, and temporary guardianship directives. You can learn more about these various documents below. Creating these documents using TrustedWill's online tools is free.

Once you have created your estate plan, either by visiting with a licensed estate attorney or by using TrustedWill's free tools, you are one step ahead in ensuring your legacy.

Step 2: Get an Attorney to Review your Estate Plan.

Important Note: TrustedWill does not provide legal services of any kind. Although the templates for the documents created with our free tools have been reviewed by estate attorneys in your state, TrustedWill does not in any way moderate or review your responses or inputs that are incorporated into creating your documents and we highly recommend that you have a licensed attorney review your estate documents.

Step 3: Have your Estate Documents Witnessed and Notarized.

If you use an estate attorney to create your estate documents, they most likely have the resourses within their law office to provide witnesses and a notary to notarize your documents. If you create your estate plan using the free tools on our website, it is important to get your Will witnessed and notarized. The easiest and usually free way to get this done is by taking it to a branch of your bank. Most bank branches have notaries on staff and will perform this service free of charge.

The majority of states in the US require that a Last Will and Testament has two witness signatures and is notorized by a notary licensed in your state. Even in states that do not have this requirement or allow for online notarization, the original copy of the Will with an ink signature, two witnesses, and a notarization is typically considered the "Gold Standard" and will be viewed by a Probate Judge as the authoritative document. A copy of the original will is NOT the same. It is important to store your original estate documents that have been witnessed and notarized in a safe place.

Step 4: Make sure your Estate Documents can be found!

The second most common problem with estate documents is oftentimes they simply cannot be found. Estate Documents are usually private and you don't want people to know what is in them until after you die. So people tend to store them in secret locations, or maybe they are kept at their attorney's office or in a safety deposit box. Even if someone has created their estate plan, sometimes at great expense both in time and money, at the end of the day if they can't be found, they are worthless. Ask any estate attorney and they will tell you that this is a problem that occurs far more often than one might expect.

A related issue is "intentionally lost" estate documents. If the person who finds your Will first isn't completely happy with what they find in it, it may simply disappear, hoping that they do better in Probate Court. Death and estates are notoriously contentious especially amongst children, grandchildren, siblings, and spouses.

TrustedWill offers a simple solution to help ensure your estate documents are found. When you sign up for one of our paid plans, in addition to storing copies of your estate documents in our secure, encrypted digital vault, you will establish a list of contacts who will gain access to your estate documents upon your death. One of these key documents is instructions on how to find and/or access the original signed, witnessed, and notarized estate documents. Upon your death, these documents including those instructions will be made available to the contacts you choose. Our systems are linked to the Social Security Administration database and upon their reporting your death, the TrustedWill system will automatically notify your contacts and give them access to the documents you wish them to have access to. TrustedWill gives you complete control and you get to decide exactly which of your contacts get access to which documents and when they get access to them. This may sound a bit confusing, but simply put, your contacts don't all get access to all your documents, you have the ability to choose WHO gets access to WHICH documents. Most importantly, your instructions on how to locate your originally signed estate documents can and will be sent to one or many (recommened) contacts of your choice.

By storing digitally signed copies of your estate documents at TrustedWill, you are providing a good backup to your inked orginal. Several states already accept digitally signed estate documents, and in the event that your original document cannot be found, a digitally signed copy, especially with a video of you reading the will and/or certifying it as of a certain date (more on this later), is far better than no will at all. There are many reasons an original will may be lost - a fire, tornado, flood, or other natural disaster, maybe your attorney who was holding it passed away first and it has been "lost in the shuffle" or maybe you simply did too good a job hiding it from prying eyes. Regardless of the reason, if your Will ends up contested in Probate Court, a digitally signed Will has a better chance than no will at all, especially if multiple people show up with the same digitally signed copy.

Step 5: Ensure your Estate holds up in Probate.

First off, do all Wills go to Probate Court? NO.