Cheap source for basic will

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JHart
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Cheap source for basic will

Postby JHart » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:10 pm

My husband and I need basic wills to establish guardians for our minor children and transfer our assets to them. We have no unusual family situations and were hoping to buy something standard online, a fill-in-the-blank type will. Does anyone have experience with the web sites selling wills? Are they decent?

srmach05
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby srmach05 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:16 pm

I've used LawDepot's service. Believe it is free as well (as long as you cancel before their complimentary service period expires). Haven't had to use either will (thankfully), but they are pretty robust and should cover all of your bases.

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dm200
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby dm200 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:23 pm

JHart wrote:My husband and I need basic wills to establish guardians for our minor children and transfer our assets to them. We have no unusual family situations and were hoping to buy something standard online, a fill-in-the-blank type will. Does anyone have experience with the web sites selling wills? Are they decent?


In my opinion, establishing the guardianship issues for minor children should be something of such importance that a "cheap source" would not be, necessarily, wise. From our research and actions when our child(ren) were minors, there are multiple issues to address and it, normally, is wise to separate the actual guardianship from the financial management.ownership to some degree.

Gill
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Gill » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:29 pm

Do you want a cheap will or a good will that you can be confident carries out your intentions? The long term welfare of your children is important enough to have an estate plan drafted by a skilled lawyer.
Gill

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dm200
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby dm200 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:32 pm

It was and is my understanding that actual guardianship of orphaned minors is determined by a judge and that a will does not actually make that determination, although it could be supportive of your intentions.

JHart
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby JHart » Fri Jul 14, 2017 3:35 pm

We need a document that records our wishes as far as who the guardians should be.

aqan
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby aqan » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:23 pm

https://www.doyourownwill.com

This site is pretty good. They ask you a few questions and generate a PDF file for you.
Haven't done it myself yet but planning to this summer.

chrisdds98
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby chrisdds98 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:39 pm

aqan wrote:https://www.doyourownwill.com

This site is pretty good. They ask you a few questions and generate a PDF file for you.
Haven't done it myself yet but planning to this summer.


Thats a cool website. I think its great for someone who doesn't have complex needs

Dottie57
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Dottie57 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:41 pm

dm200 wrote:
JHart wrote:My husband and I need basic wills to establish guardians for our minor children and transfer our assets to them. We have no unusual family situations and were hoping to buy something standard online, a fill-in-the-blank type will. Does anyone have experience with the web sites selling wills? Are they decent?


In my opinion, establishing the guardianship issues for minor children should be something of such importance that a "cheap source" would not be, necessarily, wise. From our research and actions when our child(ren) were minors, there are multiple issues to address and it, normally, is wise to separate the actual guardianship from the financial management.ownership to some degree.



+1

Leaving your money and other physical assets is one thing. Guardianship for kids is a whole different sphere.

jebmke
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby jebmke » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:42 pm

The problem with DIY estate docs is that you don't get a do-over if you get it wrong. I have found that when I meet with our attorney, he almost always asks me questions that I never would have asked myself.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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dm200
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby dm200 » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:57 pm

When our son was young, there was/were no obvious guardian(s) for him in case my wife and I died. There were sibling possibilities on both sides of the family - BUT they were both 400 miles away. So, we chose to not designate anyone, but rather focus on setting up the financial issues in a complex will with testamentary trust. We concluded that there were so many unpredictable things that could happen making one or the other "best" that our stating a desire could actually be counterproductive.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby FrugalInvestor » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:12 pm

dm200 wrote:
JHart wrote:My husband and I need basic wills to establish guardians for our minor children and transfer our assets to them. We have no unusual family situations and were hoping to buy something standard online, a fill-in-the-blank type will. Does anyone have experience with the web sites selling wills? Are they decent?


In my opinion, establishing the guardianship issues for minor children should be something of such importance that a "cheap source" would not be, necessarily, wise. From our research and actions when our child(ren) were minors, there are multiple issues to address and it, normally, is wise to separate the actual guardianship from the financial management.ownership to some degree.


+1

If you're going to make the effort to do this - which you should - then it should be done right given that your childrens' futures are at stake. Save money elsewhere and get the proper professional advice on this.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

tibbitts
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby tibbitts » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:45 pm

FrugalInvestor wrote:
dm200 wrote:
JHart wrote:My husband and I need basic wills to establish guardians for our minor children and transfer our assets to them. We have no unusual family situations and were hoping to buy something standard online, a fill-in-the-blank type will. Does anyone have experience with the web sites selling wills? Are they decent?


In my opinion, establishing the guardianship issues for minor children should be something of such importance that a "cheap source" would not be, necessarily, wise. From our research and actions when our child(ren) were minors, there are multiple issues to address and it, normally, is wise to separate the actual guardianship from the financial management.ownership to some degree.


+1

If you're going to make the effort to do this - which you should - then it should be done right given that your childrens' futures are at stake. Save money elsewhere and get the proper professional advice on this.

I did my own will with software and an attorney unofficially said it was okay - since she's the only beneficiary, she probably would have complained if something was too far off. But, no kids were involved. I might have hired someone - probably a different attorney else since she'd still be the beneficiary, to avoid any conflict of interest - if kids had been involved.

Mr.BB
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Mr.BB » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:52 pm

Somethings are worth the money, your children's future is one of them.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

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badbreath
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby badbreath » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:05 pm

you may want to look at

http://www.gyst.com

He has reviews on three or four on line preparar
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Not Law
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Not Law » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:55 pm

This is annoying. The OP thinks their needs will be met by NOT sharing their situation with a professional. Like deciding that you need a tooth pulled and looking for a guy with a pair of pliers, instead of asking a dentist why your tooth aches.

JGoneRiding
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby JGoneRiding » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:00 pm

I used rocket lawyer. If you go back and re answer the questions you can do both for 20. Then you need to get them notarized. Works well if you plan yo keep it simplr. Not for trusts etc

JHart
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby JHart » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:58 am

I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.

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Watty
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Watty » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:18 am

In addition to the will there are a number of other documents for power of attorney and medical directives that you may need just as much as will.

When I did my will I used legal zoom which had a bundle with the other documents for a couple of hundred dollars but my son was grown then. Setting up a trust would have been just a bit more.

There have been threads about this that you can search for and find out what other people did.

We did the initial questions on the internet then there was a 30 minute phone call with a lawyer to talk over out decisions and questions. We could have had followup calls if we needed them.

My impression was that this was little different than if we had gone to a local budget lawyer.

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FIREchief
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby FIREchief » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:04 am

JHart wrote: My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I'm interested in hearing how this failed. It may be of use to some folks here on the forum.

gtd98765
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby gtd98765 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:37 am

http://www.nolo.com/ is a good source for books and software on legal issues. I have used its Quicken Willmaker Plus software to create wills and powers of attorney, as well as trusts for the children. If your circumstances are straightforward and you don't expect anyone to challenge your will I am sure it will be fine. Lawyers use software too for this purpose.

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dm200
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby dm200 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:40 am

FIREchief wrote:
JHart wrote: My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.

I'm interested in hearing how this failed. It may be of use to some folks here on the forum.


According to our estate planning attorney, the most common mistake or failure if those intending to avoid probate is the failure to move assets into the trust. The "plan" may be well set up to avoid probate (with a trust), BUT if the assets are not all moved into the trust - you may still have probate.

davegreen10
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby davegreen10 » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:26 am

If you work in the corporate world, companies frequently offer legal services as one of the optional benefits. I signed up one year during the open enrollment period. It cost me about $250 for the year. My wife and I did our will/trusts that year and discontinued the benefit the next time around. The third party service had a list of local providers so I didn't have to do any vetting myself. I was very happy with the lawyer and the documents produced. We will probably do it again in ten years or so when we need to update. I consider $250 quite cheap for what I got.

junior
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby junior » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:15 pm

JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I doubt most people need an 800 dollar an hour attorney. If OP is financially struggling an alternative to an attorney might be worth looking at, but otherwise finding an affordable one who specializes in trust and estates seems like a good idea.

jebmke
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby jebmke » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:37 pm

dm200 wrote:According to our estate planning attorney, the most common mistake or failure if those intending to avoid probate is the failure to move assets into the trust. The "plan" may be well set up to avoid probate (with a trust), BUT if the assets are not all moved into the trust - you may still have probate.

Ours said the same thing in a broader context. He said that estate documents fail most often because things change after they are drawn up. Personal situations, assets (e.g. new assets not added to the trust), state laws....
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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CAsage
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby CAsage » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:45 pm

I second recommend Nolo. I used their online Willmaker software to make a credible, legal, perfectly sufficient will to define guardianship, choose an executor, and make a simple disposition of assets.
I am constantly surprised that a website chock full of DIY investors that manage their own thousands and millions are deathly afraid that somehow something Unknown and Terrible happens when they fill out a simple will. Credit the OP with the intelligence that if they know their situation is straightforward (and for many adults it is), they can handle it. I would certainly call in the lawyers for spendthrift trusts, large IRA/trust issues, family discord.... but that isn't the average adult.

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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby tibbitts » Sat Jul 15, 2017 2:58 pm

CAsage wrote:I second recommend Nolo. I used their online Willmaker software to make a credible, legal, perfectly sufficient will to define guardianship, choose an executor, and make a simple disposition of assets.
I am constantly surprised that a website chock full of DIY investors that manage their own thousands and millions are deathly afraid that somehow something Unknown and Terrible happens when they fill out a simple will. Credit the OP with the intelligence that if they know their situation is straightforward (and for many adults it is), they can handle it. I would certainly call in the lawyers for spendthrift trusts, large IRA/trust issues, family discord.... but that isn't the average adult.

I think people are just saying that there are enough potential issues with young kids involved that it may be worth having someone who's familiar with what works well be involved. I don't think that means paying a huge amount. Also some lawyers will review your documents to make sure they will do what you intend, although other lawyers feel it would take them less time to create their own from scratch - you'll get widely varying opinions from lawyers on that (surprise!)

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FIREchief
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby FIREchief » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:25 pm

dm200 wrote:
FIREchief wrote:
JHart wrote: My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.

I'm interested in hearing how this failed. It may be of use to some folks here on the forum.


According to our estate planning attorney, the most common mistake or failure if those intending to avoid probate is the failure to move assets into the trust. The "plan" may be well set up to avoid probate (with a trust), BUT if the assets are not all moved into the trust - you may still have probate.


Yes, I am aware of this and hopefully most on the forum are also aware. That said, I wanted to hear from JHart if this was the reason that his father's $8K estate plan failed. One of the advantages of using a legit lawyer is that they give you your "homework assignment" when you establish a trust. Things like calling your insurance company to have the trust listed on insurance policies and other tasks that the do it yourselfers might not think about.

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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby bsteiner » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:03 am

Watty wrote:... When I did my will I used legal zoom which had a bundle with the other documents for a couple of hundred dollars but my son was grown then. ...

My impression was that this was little different than if we had gone to a local budget lawyer.


davegreen10 wrote:If you work in the corporate world, companies frequently offer legal services as one of the optional benefits. I signed up one year during the open enrollment period. It cost me about $250 for the year. My wife and I did our will/trusts that year and discontinued the benefit the next time around. The third party service had a list of local providers so I didn't have to do any vetting myself. I was very happy with the lawyer and the documents produced. We will probably do it again in ten years or so when we need to update. I consider $250 quite cheap for what I got.


A nationally knows trusts and estates lawyer, now retired, did a Will for himself on LegalZoom to see what it would be like. Obviously he didn't sign it. He said that it was pretty good, though it didn't provide all the choices he would have wanted.

The Will on LegalZoom or the $250 Will from the group plan may be adequate for many people. However, for many people it's not. If you have life insurance, you may not think of it as an asset; but if you die while the insurance is in force it will become cash.

dm200 wrote:
FIREchief wrote:
JHart wrote: My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.

I'm interested in hearing how this failed. It may be of use to some folks here on the forum.


According to our estate planning attorney, the most common mistake or failure if those intending to avoid probate is the failure to move assets into the trust. The "plan" may be well set up to avoid probate (with a trust), BUT if the assets are not all moved into the trust - you may still have probate.


Except perhaps in California, whether you spend a few thousand dollars more to create a revocable trust or a few thousand dollars more to probate your Will is a minor detail if there are issues where the swing between doing it well or not doing it well could be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Probably as often as not even if someone had a revocable trust, we have to probate his/her Will anyway. The focus should be on the substantive issues -- who gets what, and how to leave the assets in a way that minimizes taxes and protects against creditors and spouses.

junior wrote:
JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I doubt most people need an 800 dollar an hour attorney. If OP is financially struggling an alternative to an attorney might be worth looking at, but otherwise finding an affordable one who specializes in trust and estates seems like a good idea.


If the amount involved is sufficient, the cost of the estate plan is small in relation to the amount involved, and the potential swing between the result if you do it well and the result if you don't.

There are also other levels in between LegalZoom and the group plan on the one hand and the large firms on the other hand.

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dm200
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby dm200 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:14 am

Yes, I am aware of this and hopefully most on the forum are also aware. That said, I wanted to hear from JHart if this was the reason that his father's $8K estate plan failed. One of the advantages of using a legit lawyer is that they give you your "homework assignment" when you establish a trust. Things like calling your insurance company to have the trust listed on insurance policies and other tasks that the do it yourselfers might not think about.


When we did complex wills with testamentary trusts many years ago (and minor children), as part of his services, our attorney gave us a list of things to do, including how to set beneficiaries on 401k and IRAs.

NillaNumberNine
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby NillaNumberNine » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:48 pm

davegreen10 wrote:If you work in the corporate world, companies frequently offer legal services as one of the optional benefits. I signed up one year during the open enrollment period. It cost me about $250 for the year. My wife and I did our will/trusts that year and discontinued the benefit the next time around. The third party service had a list of local providers so I didn't have to do any vetting myself. I was very happy with the lawyer and the documents produced. We will probably do it again in ten years or so when we need to update. I consider $250 quite cheap for what I got.

This is what we did as well.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Doom&Gloom » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:31 pm

JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I would not feel comfortable DIY'ing this if minor children are involved. Have you even called around to various law offices regarding their fees for what you want?

DW & I both recently had an established attorney (who has done other work for us previously) do our wills, durable POAs, and durable POAs for health care. Ours were very simple, and we live in an LCOL area. Total cost: $250. IMHO peace of mind in having a knowledgeable person involved is worth something above the price of programmed software.

2015
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby 2015 » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:00 pm

bsteiner wrote:
Watty wrote:... When I did my will I used legal zoom which had a bundle with the other documents for a couple of hundred dollars but my son was grown then. ...

My impression was that this was little different than if we had gone to a local budget lawyer.


davegreen10 wrote:If you work in the corporate world, companies frequently offer legal services as one of the optional benefits. I signed up one year during the open enrollment period. It cost me about $250 for the year. My wife and I did our will/trusts that year and discontinued the benefit the next time around. The third party service had a list of local providers so I didn't have to do any vetting myself. I was very happy with the lawyer and the documents produced. We will probably do it again in ten years or so when we need to update. I consider $250 quite cheap for what I got.


A nationally knows trusts and estates lawyer, now retired, did a Will for himself on LegalZoom to see what it would be like. Obviously he didn't sign it. He said that it was pretty good, though it didn't provide all the choices he would have wanted.

The Will on LegalZoom or the $250 Will from the group plan may be adequate for many people. However, for many people it's not. If you have life insurance, you may not think of it as an asset; but if you die while the insurance is in force it will become cash.

dm200 wrote:
FIREchief wrote:
JHart wrote: My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.

I'm interested in hearing how this failed. It may be of use to some folks here on the forum.


According to our estate planning attorney, the most common mistake or failure if those intending to avoid probate is the failure to move assets into the trust. The "plan" may be well set up to avoid probate (with a trust), BUT if the assets are not all moved into the trust - you may still have probate.


Except perhaps in California, whether you spend a few thousand dollars more to create a revocable trust or a few thousand dollars more to probate your Will is a minor detail if there are issues where the swing between doing it well or not doing it well could be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Probably as often as not even if someone had a revocable trust, we have to probate his/her Will anyway. The focus should be on the substantive issues -- who gets what, and how to leave the assets in a way that minimizes taxes and protects against creditors and spouses.

junior wrote:
JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I doubt most people need an 800 dollar an hour attorney. If OP is financially struggling an alternative to an attorney might be worth looking at, but otherwise finding an affordable one who specializes in trust and estates seems like a good idea.


If the amount involved is sufficient, the cost of the estate plan is small in relation to the amount involved, and the potential swing between the result if you do it well and the result if you don't.

There are also other levels in between LegalZoom and the group plan on the one hand and the large firms on the other hand.


Last year, I used LegalZoom to create a revocable trust, pourover will, POA, and AHCD, all based on my home state of California law. Before doing so I read Nolo's "Plan Your Estate" book not once--but twice (IIRC, it's about 500 pp.). The guidance from LZ during all phases of the process was outstanding, from the attorney consultation process to precise directions on all actions needing to be taken once the documents are completed. During the document creation process and up to one year afterwards, LZ provides unlimited free access to estate planning attorneys (LZ also provides the same access to attorneys in other practice areas). As a result of reading the Nolo book, I had (IIRC) consultations with 3 separate estate plannning attorneys. Months later, within my one year access to attorneys, for the heck of it I had a follow up legal check-up consultation with an attorney, who told me in all his consultations with clients, no one had asked some of the detailed questions I had. I was pleased with the outcome and do not believe I would have gained any additional value from seeing a private attorney for my estate planning process. OTOH, my trust was rather simple. Were it more complex, I would have sought out an estate planning attorney.

tibbitts
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby tibbitts » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:11 pm

Doom&Gloom wrote:
JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I would not feel comfortable DIY'ing this if minor children are involved. Have you even called around to various law offices regarding their fees for what you want?

DW & I both recently had an established attorney (who has done other work for us previously) do our wills, durable POAs, and durable POAs for health care. Ours were very simple, and we live in an LCOL area. Total cost: $250. IMHO peace of mind in having a knowledgeable person involved is worth something above the price of programmed software.

$250 for both people vs. per person seems low, but maybe you just got a good deal (maybe based on other work done previously?)

Doom&Gloom
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Re: Cheap source for basic will

Postby Doom&Gloom » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:12 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Doom&Gloom wrote:
JHart wrote:I hear what you guys are saying regarding going with a professional, but so often it's hard to find good people. I could see paying ten or a hundred times as much for an estate attorney only to get essentially the same product, or a different product but with just as many inadequacies. If you want something that is substantially better, you'd have to go with a white shoe firm where the partners charge $800/hour. My father paid $8K for his estate plan that supposedly avoided probate and I am now going through probate with it.


I would not feel comfortable DIY'ing this if minor children are involved. Have you even called around to various law offices regarding their fees for what you want?

DW & I both recently had an established attorney (who has done other work for us previously) do our wills, durable POAs, and durable POAs for health care. Ours were very simple, and we live in an LCOL area. Total cost: $250. IMHO peace of mind in having a knowledgeable person involved is worth something above the price of programmed software.

$250 for both people vs. per person seems low, but maybe you just got a good deal (maybe based on other work done previously?)


Maybe so, but the way he presented it, I doubt it. The prior work was even less significant. I think it is probably more likely due to a glut of lawyers in the area, i.e. supply & demand.


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