Western is committed to providing our alumni and friends with helpful resources for lifelong learning and growth. We are proud to partner with FreeWill to offer the Western community a free, easy resource to help you write your will in less than 20 minutes.
We are constantly inspired by those who have put great thought into their long-term estate plans (and perhaps even included charity in those plans), but it is clear that not enough people have created a will (or trust) to provide for their family and causes they care about when they die.
FreeWill was created to help solve the crisis of estate planning in America. Despite the best efforts of many, studies reveal that the vast majority of Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan. In fact, according to Gallup, the percentage of Americans with wills has decreased dramatically in the last 10 years.
The Foundation believes in this mission. While we would love to see every single American visit an attorney to discuss their wishes and execute the essential legal documents, we know from experience that not everyone will. Providing this easy, accessible tool is one way to help.
FreeWill is a team of 60+ engineers, lawyers, designers, nonprofit experts, and more who are dedicated to making estate planning more accessible—and have raised $1.7B in planned gifts—through their free will-writing tool. Through this online platform, you can join the 170,000 others who have created their legal wills, along with thousands of charitable bequests, in under 20 minutes at zero cost. All you have to do is answer simple questions about you and your wishes. Once you’re finished, you will receive a document to download, print, and sign. Your final will is valid in all 50 states.
Making an estate plan allows you to have control over what happens to your assets and property after your death. Without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of your state, which may not align with your wishes.
Additionally, an estate plan can help you minimize cost of taxes and fees that your beneficiaries will have to pay, ensuring that your loved ones receive as much of your estate as possible.
Overall, an estate plan can help you achieve peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out after you pass away, and can also help ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time.
A bequest, which is a type of planned gift, is a percentage or amount of your estate that you can designate to support a charitable cause beyond your lifetime. Many visionary donors have chosen to include charitable bequests to Western in their will or trust.
What are the benefits of including a planned gift in my will?
Your planned gift doesn’t cost you a cent today, but it will have a major impact on Western’s future financial security, sustainability, and students. Planned giving is thus a powerful and highly accessible form of donation: no matter your age or current circumstances, anyone can make this commitment today for the students of tomorrow.
If you don’t have an estate plan in place, you’re not alone: 70% of Americans do not have an up-to-date will. However, creating your will is essential, and can be a highly impactful way to support the people and causes you love. It ensures that your wishes are known, saving your loved ones the stress and cost of probate proceedings, and letting you (and not the government) decide where your property goes. And creating a will doesn’t have to be costly or complicated — in fact, we have partnered with FreeWill to make it easy and completely free.
Yes, you can! To do so, simply create and execute a new will using FreeWill, and destroy the earlier version. If this is your first time using FreeWill, the site will not know your previous information, so you will create an entirely new will. If you have previously worked with a lawyer to create your will, you can put together your updated wishes on FreeWill and bring them to your lawyer to incorporate into your existing will.
Not always. Although FreeWill’s self-help software can provide the legal documents needed to effectuate the common estate planning wishes of an average American user, there are many scenarios where the help of an experienced attorney will be more appropriate. Some common examples of circumstances that FreeWill should not be used for include:
(i) particularly large estates,
(ii) contentious family dynamics and blended family situations, and
(iii) families that need to provide for special needs children or relatives.
To alert users to these considerations, the FreeWill document-creation flows include numerous “Helper Text” bubbles, highlight the issue and encourage users to speak with a qualified attorney. When they do so, FreeWill users can save themselves time and money by using the “Documented Wishes” option to print out the personal details and wishes they’ve entered and bring them to their chosen attorney.
It’s also worth noting that although an estate planning attorney can provide more extensive customization and personalized advice, roughly 70% of FreeWill users indicate that their FreeWill is their very first will. In other words, they have not yet spoken with an estate planning attorney, and very well might never do so. We submit that these users will be much better off having a FreeWill will than no will at all.
Yes! The Foundation is the appropriate designation for all estate gifts. Unrestricted gifts to the Foundation are used to meet emerging needs of the University as determined by the President and Provost. However, if you want to support a particular area, you can have significant control over how your gift is used once it’s received. Please reach out to our Director of Planned Giving (EMAIL LINK) to discuss how best to ensure that your estate gift has the positive impact that you intend.
FreeWill can still help — even if you’d prefer to finalize your will with an attorney! At the end of your will-making process, you’ll get a set of your documented wishes that may save you time and money with your lawyer.
No! A will is not valid until it is executed. Be sure to print your will and follow the directions given on how to execute the will. Directions will differ based on your state, but you will always need to sign, get witness signatures, and perhaps even get it notarized.