Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 128 / APRIL 1991 / PAGE 90

WillPower 1.0. (will-making software) (evaluation)
by Carol Holzberg

What will happen to your assets after you die? A good will can ensure that you control the disposition of your assets. And WillPower is designed to help you put your estate in order without spending megabucks on professional attorney's fees.

This program cuts through the legal mumbo jumbo, offering valuable advice on how to provide for your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries. There are provisions to name an executor for your estate, nominate a trustee to handle assets earmarked for a trust, and print a customized will that can be updated easily if circumstances change.

To prepare an accurate will, you enter information of five separate data screens: General Information, Valuing Your Estate, Leaving Your Property, Nominations, and Estate Liabilities. Each screen helps you gather data about yourself and your property. Will Power compiles data from each screen to generate a will.

For example, General Information asks where you live and if you're married. You also enter data about your living children, dependent children, and the living children of your deceased children (your grandchildren). Valuing Your Estate helps you calculate the net value of your estate in order to determine what you'll be left after you've subtracted liabilities. As you fill in the program's work sheet, WillPower automatically totals your assets, subtracts your liabilities, and comes up with a figure for your net estate. The program tailors its provisions to the state in which you live.

To help you enter data more easily, every screen lists important keys and their functions. If you need more information than what appears on a particular screen, you'll find references to relevant pages in the text. Additional online help and an electronic glossary of important legal terms are accessible via the function keys.

WillPower is simple to use and quite straightforward. The manual is well written and easy to follow.

Despite the program's ease of use, keep in mind that WillPower is no substitute for professional legal advice. The program provides valuable background information, but it does not provide for all contingencies. For example, WillPower makes no provision for setting up a living will. Also, you may want to consider that generally the big dollar fees for lawyers come from handling the estate after you die, not from drafting your will.

WillPower is just a first step. It can't let you know if you've handled all the important details. To ensure that your affairs are in order and to guard against improper disposition of assets, you should consult a lawyer. Moreover, if your taxable estate is larger than $600,000, you should also obtain the advice of a tax-planning advisor, who can help you deal with federal estate taxes. In some states, you should consult a tax advisor if your taxable income is much lower.

While WillPower cannot really replace a lawyer, it can help you ask the right questions and do the groundwork necessary to come up with a thorough and adequate will, saving you time and expense when you do consult a lawyer.