I just made a will using free online tools. I didn't need a lawyer.
I did it all at LawDepot.com during their one-week free trial. LawDepot has hundreds of templates for legal documents, including power-of-attorney forms. After the free trial, it costs $35 a month or $108 a year if paid annually. I easily finished mine within the freebie period.
I was motivated by my local women's club, which has a special "pinning ceremony" for those who name the club in their wills, even for a small amount. I'm looking forward to getting my pin. Another group I support gave me a free paperweight.
When I told the ladies that I was naming the club in my will, they assumed I'd need a lawyer. I referred them to AARP's article "Creating A Will Online Or With A Lawyer." Only complicated situations require professional help, they say.
Start by filling out LawDepot's online questionnaire. It will ask you to name an executor, list your beneficiaries, and answer questions about pets, among other things. I don't plan on leaving anything to Fido. Sorry mutt, you're on your own. Actually, I don't have a dog but if I did, he'd have to get a job.
After you fill out the questionnaire, a will is created automatically. Then you can download it, print it out, get two witnesses, and find someone to notarize it. I thought I could use the free notary at my bank, but they don't handle wills. So I found one on Yelp. He charged $75 to come to my home. I should have shopped around but he was convenient and professional.
LawDepot isn't the only way to go. AARP suggests Nolo or LegalZoom. Prices range from $20 to $100. Alternatively, consider OfficeMax, Office Depot or Staples. They sell paper wills for $5 to $20. Take them home and fill them out. Then get two witnesses and a notary.
This is a great way to escape legal fees, which range from $100 to $1,000. But go ahead and pay a lawyer if you plan to disinherit your spouse, get tax guidance on a large estate, or are pretty sure that your relatives will contest it – all complicated situations according to AARP. Regarding this last point, however, LawDepot's will has a clause that automatically disinherits someone if they dispute the will. Take that, future ingrate!
"Please answer a question for a great-grandmother," a reader wrote. "How does a power bank work and what are some reliable brands?"
A power bank charges your phone for you. It's great in situations where you can't find a wall outlet. That happened to me on a plane. While still in my seat, I whipped a power bank out of my purse and plugged my phone into it. Presto! My phone went from near empty to 80% charged in an hour.
As for brands, I recommend the Excitrus 30W PD Power Bank on Amazon. It gets great reviews and works well for me. It takes an hour to charge the unit to 70%, but can recharge a phone several times. It has a button I can push to see how much charge is left.
A reader writes that he got the RAVpower 15000mAh Power Bank for $20 at Walmart. "It seems to do a good job," he says. "I don't have to be at the mercy of an electrical outlet source." I agree. That sounds great too.
MOVE THAT MUSIC
Recently, I asked myself: "Why am I paying $10 a month for Spotify's Premium music service when I'm already paying $8 a month for Amazon Music Unlimited?"
Disgruntled, I turned to TuneMyMusic to copy 500 songs from Spotify to Amazon for free. Alternatively, I could have chosen Pandora, iHeartRadio or many others. Unfortunately, I accidentally said yes to transferring all 57 playlists at once, using up my free 500 song transfer in the blink of an eye. That meant it didn't get to "Joy's Rock Favorites" or "Joy's Classical Favorites." So I paid $4.50 for a one-time transfer of everything. Now when I go to Music.Amazon.com, I can play 96% of the tunes I play on Spotify. Incidentally, there's a $24 a year membership for those who want to keep multiple music services in sync as they add more tunes.
I don't see myself ever dropping the paid version of Amazon Music. I use it everywhere, even on Alexa devices that aren't in my home. For example, many years ago, I bought an Echo Dot for a disabled friend so she could ask Alexa for music without using her hands. Then I connected her Echo to my account. That meant that when I temporarily went back to Amazon Prime Music, which is free for Prime members, she couldn't get her favorite songs. Amazon Unlimited has 50 million songs, 48 million more than Prime has. I'm sticking with Unlimited.
After I mentioned Grace Hopper, the programming pioneer nicknamed "Grandma COBOL," a reader told me about meeting her at a computer show in Chicago. He said she is credited with popularizing the term "bug" for computer malfunctions. She began using the term after she found a moth in a Harvard Mark II. To get ahead in a man's world, Hopper found it easier to apologize afterwards than try to get permission from her superior ahead of time. She is the only computer scientist to have a warship named after her: the USS Hopper, a destroyer.
Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at email@example.com.