Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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munemaker
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by munemaker » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:56 am

I just prepared wills for my wife and I using Quicken Willmaker Plus.

Some people on here seem to think there are some magic words only an attorney knows, or something complicated about preparing a will. They may be correct if you have some special circumstances. If your situation is straightforward (as ours is), you may just set up beneficiaries for IRAs and taxable accounts (transfer on death - where permitted), each spouse names the other in the will, and if both pass at the same time, remainder of the estate is split between the children. In a simple case like this, it is a no-brainer to do yourself. There are a number of different ways you could do this, but Quicken Willmaker Plus worked for us.

First, I borrowed Quicken Willmaker Plus from our public library. It consists of a thick book and a CD. You use the CD to install the program onto your computer. I noticed the book had hardly been cracked, even though the book had been taken out of the library quite a few times. This is because the book is copied on to your computer along with the program. Creating the will is a very simple, straight forward and satisfying process. When you return the book/CD to the library, the program and book remain on your computer. Now how cool is that!

If you are on the edge of whether to prepare your own will, borrow Quicken Willmaker Plus and try it. I think you will be so confident in the results, that you will not consider paying an attorney. Aside from the cost, there is the convenience factor and the satisfaction you get from doing it yourself.

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munemaker
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by munemaker » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:04 pm

finallyinvesting wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:21 am
Keep in mind, though, that a will, when probated becomes public information.
Attorneys always seem to make a big deal out of this. Seems old school to me. When I am dead, do I really care if people know what I owned?

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:26 pm

munemaker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:56 am
I just prepared wills for my wife and I using Quicken Willmaker Plus.

Some people on here seem to think there are some magic words only an attorney knows, or something complicated about preparing a will. They may be correct if you have some special circumstances. If your situation is straightforward (as ours is), you may just set up beneficiaries for IRAs and taxable accounts (transfer on death - where permitted), each spouse names the other in the will, and if both pass at the same time, remainder of the estate is split between the children. In a simple case like this, it is a no-brainer to do yourself. There are a number of different ways you could do this, but Quicken Willmaker Plus worked for us.

First, I borrowed Quicken Willmaker Plus from our public library. It consists of a thick book and a CD. You use the CD to install the program onto your computer. I noticed the book had hardly been cracked, even though the book had been taken out of the library quite a few times. This is because the book is copied on to your computer along with the program. Creating the will is a very simple, straight forward and satisfying process. When you return the book/CD to the library, the program and book remain on your computer. Now how cool is that!

If you are on the edge of whether to prepare your own will, borrow Quicken Willmaker Plus and try it. I think you will be so confident in the results, that you will not consider paying an attorney. Aside from the cost, there is the convenience factor and the satisfaction you get from doing it yourself.
Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will definitely check the book and software in our public library. I think even if I eventfully hire an attorney, this will give me some solid knowledge on the topic. I could then ask the attorney to review what I have prepared and explain to me why certain things need to be done this way, not the other way. Both my husband and I are very much DIY persons. I will not feel very comfortable if I don't have some good understanding of why and how the assets will be distributed.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:43 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:26 pm
munemaker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:56 am
I just prepared wills for my wife and I using Quicken Willmaker Plus.

Some people on here seem to think there are some magic words only an attorney knows, or something complicated about preparing a will. They may be correct if you have some special circumstances. If your situation is straightforward (as ours is), you may just set up beneficiaries for IRAs and taxable accounts (transfer on death - where permitted), each spouse names the other in the will, and if both pass at the same time, remainder of the estate is split between the children. In a simple case like this, it is a no-brainer to do yourself. There are a number of different ways you could do this, but Quicken Willmaker Plus worked for us.

First, I borrowed Quicken Willmaker Plus from our public library. It consists of a thick book and a CD. You use the CD to install the program onto your computer. I noticed the book had hardly been cracked, even though the book had been taken out of the library quite a few times. This is because the book is copied on to your computer along with the program. Creating the will is a very simple, straight forward and satisfying process. When you return the book/CD to the library, the program and book remain on your computer. Now how cool is that!

If you are on the edge of whether to prepare your own will, borrow Quicken Willmaker Plus and try it. I think you will be so confident in the results, that you will not consider paying an attorney. Aside from the cost, there is the convenience factor and the satisfaction you get from doing it yourself.
Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will definitely check the book and software in our public library. I think even if I eventfully hire an attorney, this will give me some solid knowledge on the topic. I could then ask the attorney to review what I have prepared and explain to me why certain things need to be done this way, not the other way. Both my husband and I are very much DIY persons. I will not feel very comfortable if I don't have some good understanding of why and how the assets will be distributed.
And this will cost, conservatively, twice what an attorney would charge to do your will from scratch. It's just how their business model works. They have their own will-writing template, which they customize with your inputs - who gets what, how funds for the kids are handled, whether you need to consider charitable gifts or estate tax, etc. They know what the software will spit out for a given set of inputs, so the labor cost is low.

If you give them a will you wrote and ask them to review it, they will read every word and consider every possible outcome, and spend hours and hours doing it, with the full confidence that if any of your heirs don't like anything in it, the law firm will come under fire.

If you want to help law firm associates pay off their college loans, go for it. But I'll spend my money deciding what big picture outcomes I want, telling that to the attorney, and then reviewing the law firm's work.

Good luck.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Nov 16, 2017 8:06 pm

What you said does make sense. Maybe I will just use the will I prepare as the starting point of our conversation so that we don't waste time on trivial issues we both agree.

tibbitts
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by tibbitts » Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:56 pm

munemaker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:56 am
I just prepared wills for my wife and I using Quicken Willmaker Plus.

Some people on here seem to think there are some magic words only an attorney knows, or something complicated about preparing a will. They may be correct if you have some special circumstances. If your situation is straightforward (as ours is), you may just set up beneficiaries for IRAs and taxable accounts (transfer on death - where permitted), each spouse names the other in the will, and if both pass at the same time, remainder of the estate is split between the children. In a simple case like this, it is a no-brainer to do yourself. There are a number of different ways you could do this, but Quicken Willmaker Plus worked for us.

First, I borrowed Quicken Willmaker Plus from our public library. It consists of a thick book and a CD. You use the CD to install the program onto your computer. I noticed the book had hardly been cracked, even though the book had been taken out of the library quite a few times. This is because the book is copied on to your computer along with the program. Creating the will is a very simple, straight forward and satisfying process. When you return the book/CD to the library, the program and book remain on your computer. Now how cool is that!

If you are on the edge of whether to prepare your own will, borrow Quicken Willmaker Plus and try it. I think you will be so confident in the results, that you will not consider paying an attorney. Aside from the cost, there is the convenience factor and the satisfaction you get from doing it yourself.
I used the same software to prepare my own will, but I don't have an LLC any longer, and it never held any property, and I don't have any minor children. You say you set up your will to potentially split your estate equally between children, but were they minor children? It seems like that would be much more complicated than adult children. A lawyer did review my documents and said they were okay, but again my situation was much simpler.

I would caution against saying things like "it worked for us", since you haven't actually tested your documents, or even had them reviewed by anyone.

As as long as we're talking about legal expertise, another legal question: are you sure you can have that Willmaker software on your computer? Or the Willmaker book for that matter? There are probably two different legal issues involved - the EULA for the software, and the copyright (and first-sale doctrine limitations) for the book. I'm definitely not an expert, just asking.

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munemaker
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by munemaker » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:01 am

tibbitts wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:56 pm

As as long as we're talking about legal expertise, another legal question: are you sure you can have that Willmaker software on your computer? Or the Willmaker book for that matter? There are probably two different legal issues involved - the EULA for the software, and the copyright (and first-sale doctrine limitations) for the book. I'm definitely not an expert, just asking.
Thought process: This book/program is commonly available at public libraries. Why would libraries lend out the book/program if they did not intend for you to install on your computer? I have not thought about it beyond that and do not intend to.

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munemaker
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by munemaker » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:06 am

tibbitts wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:56 pm

It seems like that would be much more complicated than adult children.
My children are adults. With minor children, I think it is common practice to specify guardians for your children. I have never done that, but it doesn't seem like it would be that complicated; WillMaker Plus guides you through it in a Q&A format.

p0nyboy
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by p0nyboy » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:27 am

Can someone explain to me why people are uncomfortable creating a will? Do people forget that everyone is going to die at some point. As of now we are not immortal. In the future with medical advances that may be different. It shouldnt come as a surprise that we are all going to die. Unless you want family members fighting over your possessions when you're gone...visit a qualified lawyer and get some legal binding documents in place.

tibbitts
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by tibbitts » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:49 am

munemaker wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:01 am
tibbitts wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:56 pm

As as long as we're talking about legal expertise, another legal question: are you sure you can have that Willmaker software on your computer? Or the Willmaker book for that matter? There are probably two different legal issues involved - the EULA for the software, and the copyright (and first-sale doctrine limitations) for the book. I'm definitely not an expert, just asking.
Thought process: This book/program is commonly available at public libraries. Why would libraries lend out the book/program if they did not intend for you to install on your computer? I have not thought about it beyond that and do not intend to.
I'll open another thread to discuss so as to not hijack this one. I've done two minutes of research and it's been inconclusive.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:01 am

p0nyboy wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:27 am
Can someone explain to me why people are uncomfortable creating a will? Do people forget that everyone is going to die at some point. As of now we are not immortal. In the future with medical advances that may be different. It shouldnt come as a surprise that we are all going to die. Unless you want family members fighting over your possessions when you're gone...visit a qualified lawyer and get some legal binding documents in place.
Almost all the people replying here indicate that when they created their wills, there were no minor children involved. So I gather that means most people do not create wills until their children are already adults. I will feel much comfortable if my kids are adults. What do they call young kids when both of their parents are dead? Orphans. Does that word sound pleasant? No. So you are trying to avoid and put off the unpleasant thoughts and hope this eventfully may not be an issue any more . It is not an excuse, but that explains how I feel.
Last edited by Amy2017 on Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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munemaker
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by munemaker » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:19 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:01 am
p0nyboy wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:27 am
Can someone explain to me why people are uncomfortable creating a will? Do people forget that everyone is going to die at some point. As of now we are not immortal. In the future with medical advances that may be different. It shouldnt come as a surprise that we are all going to die. Unless you want family members fighting over your possessions when you're gone...visit a qualified lawyer and get some legal binding documents in place.
Almost all the people replying there indicate that when they created their wills, there were no minor children involved. So I assume that means most people do not create wills until their children are already adults. I will feel much comfortable if my kids are adults. What do they call young kids when both of their parents are dead? Orphans. Does that word sound pleasant? No. So you are trying to avoid and put off the unpleasant thoughts and hope this eventfully may not be an issue any more . It is not an excuse, but that explains how I feel.
You can, of course, die at any age. The chances increase though, as you age. That, and I personally never had the time to deal with stuff like this when I was working and now I do. Yes, ideally everyone should have a will when they are young with minor children, so there are arrangements for someone to care for them in the event of both parents' demise.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:18 am

munemaker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:04 pm
finallyinvesting wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:21 am
Keep in mind, though, that a will, when probated becomes public information.
Attorneys always seem to make a big deal out of this. Seems old school to me. When I am dead, do I really care if people know what I owned?
Lawyers generally don't mention this. I've only had two cases where clients were concerned about this. One wanted to leave cash bequests to several female friends and didn't want his family to see it in the Will, so he created a separate trust for those bequests and in his Will left a bequest to the trustees of the separate trust. The other wanted to make some provisions regarding business succession and didn't want anyone in the company to know his plans during his lifetime and didn't want his competitors to see it in his Will.
NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:43 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:26 pm
munemaker wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:56 am
I just prepared wills for my wife and I using Quicken Willmaker Plus.

Some people on here seem to think there are some magic words only an attorney knows, or something complicated about preparing a will. They may be correct if you have some special circumstances. If your situation is straightforward (as ours is), you may just set up beneficiaries for IRAs and taxable accounts (transfer on death - where permitted), each spouse names the other in the will, and if both pass at the same time, remainder of the estate is split between the children. In a simple case like this, it is a no-brainer to do yourself. There are a number of different ways you could do this, but Quicken Willmaker Plus worked for us.

First, I borrowed Quicken Willmaker Plus from our public library. It consists of a thick book and a CD. You use the CD to install the program onto your computer. I noticed the book had hardly been cracked, even though the book had been taken out of the library quite a few times. This is because the book is copied on to your computer along with the program. Creating the will is a very simple, straight forward and satisfying process. When you return the book/CD to the library, the program and book remain on your computer. Now how cool is that!

If you are on the edge of whether to prepare your own will, borrow Quicken Willmaker Plus and try it. I think you will be so confident in the results, that you will not consider paying an attorney. Aside from the cost, there is the convenience factor and the satisfaction you get from doing it yourself.
Thank you so much for the suggestion. I will definitely check the book and software in our public library. I think even if I eventfully hire an attorney, this will give me some solid knowledge on the topic. I could then ask the attorney to review what I have prepared and explain to me why certain things need to be done this way, not the other way. Both my husband and I are very much DIY persons. I will not feel very comfortable if I don't have some good understanding of why and how the assets will be distributed.
And this will cost, conservatively, twice what an attorney would charge to do your will from scratch. It's just how their business model works. They have their own will-writing template, which they customize with your inputs - who gets what, how funds for the kids are handled, whether you need to consider charitable gifts or estate tax, etc. They know what the software will spit out for a given set of inputs, so the labor cost is low.

If you give them a will you wrote and ask them to review it, they will read every word and consider every possible outcome, and spend hours and hours doing it, with the full confidence that if any of your heirs don't like anything in it, the law firm will come under fire.

If you want to help law firm associates pay off their college loans, go for it. But I'll spend my money deciding what big picture outcomes I want, telling that to the attorney, and then reviewing the law firm's work.
...
I can review a Will prepared by another trusts and estates lawyer and spot the key issues very quickly.

If you were to prepare a Will yourself, or have a lawyer who's not a trusts and estates lawyer prepare a draft, I can take a quick look to spot the issues in the dispositive terms. But it would take more time to revise the dispositive terms than it would take to draft from scratch. And it wouldn't be practical to revise the dispositive provisions, since that wouldn't cover the administrative provisions.
Last edited by bsteiner on Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

prince
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by prince » Mon Nov 20, 2017 12:24 pm

I am looking for decent online will software. Here are three I have run across so far:

willing.com (only single no kids is free)

tomorrow.me (free app)

doyourownwill.com (free)

Has anyone had any experiences with any of these or can recommend others?

2015
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by 2015 » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:39 pm

swimfin wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:10 pm
+1 on jebmke's advice

A Legalzoom will may or may not comply with the laws of the state where you reside. It would be tragic to learn you have an invalid will AFTER you die because then it would be too late.

For minor children, you should consider setting up a testamentary trust in your will naming a corporate fiduciary ( such as a trust dept at a large bank ) to serve as trustee.

Family members are fine to serve as guardian of the person of your child, but not so fine at serving as guardian of the estate of your child.
What you state (underlined) is untrue. Legalzoom provides for customization by state. Their documents are prepared by attorneys (have you not at least researched their site???)

Regarding jebmke's advice, when drafting a trust through Legalzoom, you are provided with the following for an entire year (from their website):
One year of professional legal guidance with every Estate Plan Bundle. An independent attorney will help you get what you want from your estate plan, and can even consult with you on other personal legal matters, included in the cost. Help in understanding documents A professional can explain the different components of your estate plan and what protections they provide. Guidance for life changes In the event your circumstances change, you'll have access to a legal professional who can counsel you on how to update your estate plan. Choosing between a Last Will and a Living Trust. The attorney will help you understand the difference between a Last Will and a Living Trust, so you can pick what's best for your family. Ongoing legal advice for personal legal matters. Your attorney advice isn't limited to estate planning, you can also receive consultations on other personal legal matters. Free revisions of your estate plan If you want to revise your estate plan, you can update your documents with no added cost. Tax advice through our partners at 1-800Accountant Your bundle also gives you access to a year of tax consulting with 1-800Accountant.
I used Legalzoom to set up a trust. I spoke with a number of California (where I reside) estate attorneys during the process. A year later, when the year of legal advice was about to expire, I scheduled my own "legal checkup". Granted, my trust and estate are not complex, but I was satisfied with the service. I should also add in preparation I read Nolo's roughly 500 page Estate Planning book (twice). OTOH, were I in OP's situation, I would probably engage an attorney due to the complexity.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:21 pm

So I have got several good recommendation of estate planning attorneys. Based on online information, besides estate planning, one of the attorneys seems really good at taxation with lots of credentials. Here are my questions.

1) When you search for an attorney, do you just find a good enough attorney or very good attorney? I know there is no guaranty bad attorneys charge less, but does very good attorney usually charge a lot more? I think other attorneys are also qualified, but may not be as good as this one.

2) I was a little disappointed of the tax saving advice giving by my CPA friend in the past. He is good at execution if I gives him the general idea, but nothing else. I read one of threads here, which mentioned that taxation department in a law firm specialized in estate planning is best at giving tax saving advice. That is the main reason I prefer this attorney over others. Maybe with the tax saving, I could get my money worth. But I am not sure whether only very rich people could afford this kind of service, which seems ongoing tax advice, not just one time estate planning.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm

My husband and I finally got a chance to sit down with an estate planning attorney today to discuss our situation. With all of his qualification on paper, I think the attorney is a very good one. But I am somewhat sticker shocked. There are basically two options in our married couple scenarios.

1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400

This will includes wills with powers of attorney for property and advance directives for health care, along with explanatory cover letters and memoranda. In the first scenario, if both my husband and I pass away, a short-term trust will be set up and the children will get all the money when they are 30 years old or whatever age we desire. He recommends at least 25 years old, but prefers 30. Before that, the children could get monthly or yearly or one lump sum of installment. In the second scenario, two trusts will be set up and the money will be in the trust forever. The attorney obviously recommends the second option. He said this will provide asset protection for the children forever and 80% of his clients choose the second option. For clients with our level of assets, he said almost 95%. Before I went into the meeting, I expected to pay $1000 for the service. Right now it is at least 3 times of what I had in mind. I would prefer the first option since it is cheaper and good enough for our purpose. I figure if our children still could not manage their life well when they are already 30 years old and waste all the money we give them, they deserve to start from the beginning.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Whakamole » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:22 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
I figure if our children still could not manage their life well when they are already 30 years old and waste all the money we give them, they deserve to start from the beginning.
Not going to comment on what you should do, but there are far worse things that can happen, such as one of your children fighting an addiction problem and coming into a lump sum of money.

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Pajamas
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:32 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
I figure if our children still could not manage their life well when they are already 30 years old and waste all the money we give them, they deserve to start from the beginning.

What are your thoughts on this?
The trusts would also protect your children from other people. I think you should follow your attorney's advice. This is a situation where a relatively small expenditure now can save a lot of money and problems later. I can't say whether or not the fees are reasonable or competitive, but they don't seem insane.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:40 pm

Since my husband and I have never taken any drug in our life or even have a clue of where to buy them, I could not image my kids take drugs. The thoughts of that sound depressing. But I definitely get your point.

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Pajamas
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:42 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:40 pm
Since my husband and I have never taken any drug in our life or even have a clue of where to buy them, I could not image my kids take drugs. The thoughts of that sound depressing. But I definitely get your point.
A lot of drug addicts get them from pharmacies with a prescription from a doctor.

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FIREchief
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by FIREchief » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:43 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400
$1500 for a lifetime of asset protection is a real bargain. Did you discuss separate trusts for any qualified retirement benefits?
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:47 pm

Yankuba wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:10 pm
What is the going rate for a will in a major city? My attorney who does our real estate closings wants $2500 and a friend just paid $2500. I was only charged $1500 for the the real estate closings which I imagine require more hours of labor than plugging a few names into a document. Our will should be garden variety - nothing fancy or complex.
Wife and I just completed our free consultation with an estate lawyer recommended by a friend. We met for 1.5 hours, and came away very impressed, and have accepted his services. Most issues I asked about were handled as I expected, so no real surprises. The lawyer has offices in Tampa and Orlando.

I especially wanted to deal with someone who has a good chance outliving the both of us. My father's lawyer was really up in age, but handled everything I needed to close my father's estate. Still had a sharp mind, but I like our lawyer, who is only 46!

For $1500.00 total EACH of us will receive the following:
- Last Will and Testament with Testamentary Trust (there will be one trust)
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate Designation
- Living Will

Frankly, I expected to pay more, so was pleasantly surprised.

OP, with minor children, legal arrangements made by YOU and your SPOUSE surely would be more appropriate than leaving things to chance.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:06 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:43 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400
$1500 for a lifetime of asset protection is a real bargain. Did you discuss separate trusts for any qualified retirement benefits?
You make the second option look attractive now :D . Based on my understanding, it will be just one trust for each of my kids. Then we change the beneficiary of Roth IRA, 401K, etc to names of the trust instead of my kids' names. Even with our rental properties and minor children, the attorney said our situation is not complicated. He is in one of those legal sub-communities that help draft estate planning law to be presented for our state legislative session, so I guess he knows what he is doing. I had always wondered in the past how those congressmen know what to write into law since many of them are not lawyers themselves. It makes sense now.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:26 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:21 pm
...
1) When you search for an attorney, do you just find a good enough attorney or very good attorney? I know there is no guaranty bad attorneys charge less, but does very good attorney usually charge a lot more? I think other attorneys are also qualified, but may not be as good as this one.

2) I was a little disappointed of the tax saving advice giving by my CPA friend in the past. He is good at execution if I gives him the general idea, but nothing else. I read one of threads here, which mentioned that taxation department in a law firm specialized in estate planning is best at giving tax saving advice. That is the main reason I prefer this attorney over others. Maybe with the tax saving, I could get my money worth. But I am not sure whether only very rich people could afford this kind of service, which seems ongoing tax advice, not just one time estate planning.
1. With $4 million I would vote for a "very good" lawyer. With only $4 million, many of the large firms won't take you on. But there are very good lawyers at other firms. If you had only $1 million, then one who's "good enough" might be good enough.

2. I agree that you should look for someone in a firm that has a good tax and estates practice.
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
... There are basically two options in our married couple scenarios.

1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400

... In the first scenario, if both my husband and I pass away, a short-term trust will be set up and the children will get all the money when they are 30 years old or whatever age we desire. He recommends at least 25 years old, but prefers 30. Before that, the children could get monthly or yearly or one lump sum of installment. In the second scenario, two trusts will be set up and the money will be in the trust forever. The attorney obviously recommends the second option. He said this will provide asset protection for the children forever and 80% of his clients choose the second option. For clients with our level of assets, he said almost 95%. Before I went into the meeting, I expected to pay $1000 for the service. Right now it is at least 3 times of what I had in mind. I would prefer the first option since it is cheaper and good enough for our purpose. I figure if our children still could not manage their life well when they are already 30 years old and waste all the money we give them, they deserve to start from the beginning.

What are your thoughts on this?
The cost should be the same either way, since the work involved is the same either way. However, if he's a good lawyer in a good firm, the cost of #2 is reasonable. You should be able to tell from his bio and his firm's website whether he's a reasonable choice.

If he recommended #2, that's a good sign. I wouldn't have offered #1 as an alternative. No one knows what the future will bring. A child could get divorced, outlive his/her spouse and remarry, do well and have an estate large enough to pay estate tax, or have a creditor problem. You can still provide that each child gets to control his/her trust at a specified age.

I assume if you decide on all to spouse, he'll include a disclaimer trust as a backup. That would give the surviving spouse the option to disclaim (waive) some or all of the deceased spouse's assets. Any disclaimed property would go into a trust for the surviving spouse's benefit. On these numbers, most likely the surviving spouse wouldn't disclaim (except perhaps if you're in a state with a state estate tax), but it's common to include a disclaimer trust in case the spouse wants to disclaim.

As FIREchief pointed out, since there are some special rules for trusts that receive retirement benefits, each child should end up with two trusts, one for his/her share of the retirement benefits and one for his/her share of the other assets. Each child's two trusts will be identical except for the special rules for trusts that receive retirement benefits. I assume he'll include this. There was no need for him to discuss this at the meeting.
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:06 pm
... Even with our rental properties and minor children, the attorney said our situation is not complicated. ...
It's a routine matter for someone who does this regularly.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by FIREchief » Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:28 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:06 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:43 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400
$1500 for a lifetime of asset protection is a real bargain. Did you discuss separate trusts for any qualified retirement benefits?
Then we change the beneficiary of Roth IRA, 401K, etc to names of the trust instead of my kids' names.
It sounds like you're being offered a conduit trust. If you have significant qualified retirement assets (IRA, 401K, qualified pension rollovers, etc) this is generally not the desirable approach. You instead should consider an accumulation trust. There have been many posts on this forum on this topic. bsteiner is the expert, so you may wish to just review some of his recent posts in the relevant threads.

Edit: looks like Bruce already weighed in while I was posting this message. 8-)
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm

It is likely that is how he plan to handle the retirement benefit. I was not knowledgeable enough to ask that question specifically. It was supposed to be 2 hour free consultation, which went on for 3 hours. He did say that their work is pretty extensive. So it will take close to 6 months to complete the documents if we choose their service. He is 54 years old, so he may have retired or died when we pass away and my kids need someone to execute the legal documents. But he said he considered himself a A+ level attorney. The legal documents they prepare will be so clearly written that as long as an attorney is B level attorney, he will be able to follow through even though it is mostly like that they will arrange other legal firms to handle their cases if they are retired.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by FIREchief » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:32 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm
It is likely that is how he plan to handle the retirement benefit. I was not knowledgeable enough to ask that question specifically. It was supposed to be 2 hour free consultation, which went on for 3 hours. He did say that their work is pretty extensive. So it will take close to 6 months to complete the documents if we choose their service. He is 54 years old, so he may have retired or died when we pass away and my kids need someone to execute the legal documents. But he said he considered himself a A+ level attorney. The legal documents they prepare will be so clearly written that as long as an attorney is B level attorney, he will be able to follow through even though it is mostly like that they will arrange other legal firms to handle their cases if they are retired.
A couple concerns here.
1) He should be asking you how you want to handle the qualified retirement benefits. A conduit trust will provide no meaningful asset protection. Unfortunately, that's the only tool that some law firms keep in their tool box.
2) I can't imagine why it would take 6 months to draft the documents you've described.
3) If properly drafted, it really shouldn't matter who assists your eventual heirs in executing your estate plan. This stuff isn't necessarily simple, but it's not rocket science either.
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by JBTX » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:17 pm

For a net worth of nearly $4 million, including multiple rental properties and retirement accounts, and small children, if it takes several thousand $ to make an estate plan that is money well spent.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:21 pm

I will definitely ask him that question next time if we decide to choose his service. I am surprised that it takes six months too, but then again maybe he got lots of clients lately. The thing I have been afraid of is that the new arrangement may make our life inconvenient. But he promised the final documents will be simple, flexible, yet effective.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by JBTX » Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:29 pm

tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:05 pm
You "have investment in Roth IRA, 401K, 529 Plan, etc. accounts worth around $1 million."

Do lawyers even have to expertise to advise you on how to handle those? Do they typically do that? It's typically best that those do not go to the estate. The will only covers the estate. I used a lawyer for my will, but I did not get anyone to advise me on how to set up beneficiaries on my accounts.

I just looked at my POAs that were prepared by an expensive lawyer. It has clauses about the POA having the right to change and recover my passwords, but I don't think that is consistent with the policies of Vanguard and other brokerages. Expensive lawyers may not do a perfect job either!

You do need a will simply because the inheritance plan in your original post is probably not the default plan that your state will impose if you die intestate. "intestate" means "without a will". You can look up the intestate laws in your state. If you have no will, then the courts will appoint guardians for the minors if need be and a conservator if they inherit any significant amount.
As to IRAS, ETC, typically they first go to a spouse, but beyond that if both spouses die they have to go somewhere. If you want them to go to minor children you need to take additional steps. I don't think you can leave assets outright to a minor. You can leave it to a trust in the child's name, but if you don't set it up right the ira will have to be distributed in 5 years, with a tax bill, vs stretching it over the lifetime of the child.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:41 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm
It is likely that is how he plan to handle the retirement benefit. I was not knowledgeable enough to ask that question specifically. ...
Very few clients ask about that. Except for the tax aspects, retirement benefits are assets like any other assets. So at the surviving spouse's death, they would usually go in the same way as the other assets, except to the extent of any modifications necessary to obtain the stretch.

Drafting discretionary trusts for retirement benefits can be tricky the first couple of times you do it. Even good lawyers don't always optimize this. Ideally he would be able to include this. But since the retirement benefits are only about 1/4 of your total assets, if he does a good job on everything else, that might be sufficient.
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm
... It was supposed to be 2 hour free consultation ....
That's a red flag. As a practical matter, if someone doesn't go forward, it's hard to get paid for the initial meeting unless the client offers to pay. But offering free consultations encourages people who have no intention of going forward to come in. The first meeting is usually the hardest part of the job.
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm
... He did say that their work is pretty extensive. So it will take close to 6 months to complete the documents ....
That's more than a red flag. From what you've described, your situation is routine. You're well under the Federal estate tax exclusion amount (even if it reverts to the pre-2018 level in 2026), so you don't need to make gifts now to save estate taxes. Your plan to leave everything to each other (I assume with a disclaimer trust as backup), and then to your children in separate trusts for their benefit is a common plan. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks to prepare drafts and a cover letter, have a colleague review them, and send you the drafts.
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:00 pm
... He is 54 years old, so he may have retired or died when we pass away and my kids need someone to execute the legal documents. ... The legal documents they prepare will be so clearly written that as long as an attorney is B level attorney, he will be able to follow through even though it is mostly like that they will arrange other legal firms to handle their cases if they are retired.
After neither of you is living, your children (assuming they'll be the executors of the surviving spouse's estate) will get to pick the lawyer to handle the surviving spouse's estate. They can pick an A level, a B level, or any other level of their choice. I've seen enough things go wrong that they should pick a level at or near the beginning of the alphabet. But that will be up to them when the time comes.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:25 am

All are good questions. I googled this attorney's reviews online. I do see several clients mentioned that it took a little long for him to prepare the documents. However, the final documents were very comprehensive, detailed, and custom-tailored. He also answered their long emails with questions very quickly. Since I am sure I will ask lots of question during the process, that makes me feel comfortable. One client did mention that he charged 25%-50% more for the service out of three attorneys he interviewed, but he chose him and his team because of his professionalism and attention to detail. He said the service may save him million of dollars in tax alone. I think most people asking for estate planned service only have million of dollars in net assets, so I guess this client is very very rich and requires more service.

My neighbor will throw a party tonight. Since he recommended this guy and his partner to us, I may ask his opinion of the price and options presented by this estate planning attorney. Although my neighbor is an attorney specialized in business law, I assume he may know something basic about the estate planning.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:57 pm

Asked my neighbor about the estate planning attorney. He said the attorney is very good, but expensive. His law firm charges $2500 for option 1 and they don't even offer option 2, which is exactly what the estate planning attorney had told me earlier that many law firms do not even offer option 2. So he think $4400 for option 2 is not so out of ordinary, considering the attorney is one of the very top ones in his practicing area and he usually handles high-end clients. He then referred another estate planning attorney that he thinks should charge less. But I have done some research on that one, at least on paper, that one is not as good as this one. One of the things I favor this estate planning attorney is his strong background in tax laws. His undergraduate degree is accounting. He also got master of laws degree in taxation in addition to law degree. So I guess I will get what I pay for.

One thing I am not sure is what kind of clients I am in the eyes of an estate planning attorney. I would consider myself middle-end. The attorney did strongly recommend a Property And Casualty Insurance Advisor company to review our current insurance so to make sure all of our properties are properly covered. That company does seem very good, but I am not sure whether it is necessary. It seems we have opened a can of worms with this estate planning thing.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:04 am

FIREchief wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:28 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:06 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:43 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:02 pm
1) All outright to spouse and outright or in short-term Trusts for children or others (Non-GST) - $2900
2) All outright to spouse and in long-term Trusts for children or others (Semi-GST) - $4400
$1500 for a lifetime of asset protection is a real bargain. Did you discuss separate trusts for any qualified retirement benefits?
Then we change the beneficiary of Roth IRA, 401K, etc to names of the trust instead of my kids' names.
It sounds like you're being offered a conduit trust. If you have significant qualified retirement assets (IRA, 401K, qualified pension rollovers, etc) this is generally not the desirable approach. You instead should consider an accumulation trust. There have been many posts on this forum on this topic. bsteiner is the expert, so you may wish to just review some of his recent posts in the relevant threads.
I think you are right about conduit trust after reading the detailed fee schedule again. It said no additional charge for use of conduit trust planning for benefit of children after death of single individual or after death of the surviving spouse if working with a couple. If want IRA/QP benefits to be paid to trust(s) for benefit of the surviving spouse under a Will or RLT, including if planning for possible use of disclaimer by surviving spouse, add $1700 if working with both members of a married couple. I am pretty sure $4400 is the maximum my husband will allow me to spend on what he think this "useless estate planning" if I don't want to get a divorce :? . So I guess conduit trust will be what we will get.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by FIREchief » Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:54 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:04 am

I think you are right about conduit trust after reading the detailed fee schedule again. It said no additional charge for use of conduit trust planning for benefit of children after death of single individual or after death of the surviving spouse if working with a couple.

So I guess conduit trust will be what we will get.
This is a red flag to me. It suggests that you may be dealing with an attorney who sells "one size fits all" solutions, and isn't really doing any additional work for you as a client. I call them "trust mills," because they just spit out a series of substantially identical estate plans regardless of true client needs. I've been given several sales pitches for these abominations, but fortunately I took pause, educated myself a lot more, and didn't pay one of these places $5K for something that didn't meet my needs (but came in a REALLY nice huge leather binder). I hate to say this, but in your situation, maybe you need to slow the whole thing down and investigate some better options.
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:16 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 11:57 pm
Asked my neighbor about the estate planning attorney. He said the attorney is very good, but expensive. His law firm charges $2500 for option 1 and they don't even offer option 2, ... One of the things I favor this estate planning attorney is his strong background in tax laws. His undergraduate degree is accounting. He also got master of laws degree in taxation in addition to law degree. So I guess I will get what I pay for.

One thing I am not sure is what kind of clients I am in the eyes of an estate planning attorney. I would consider myself middle-end. ...
The cost should be the same regardless of whether the children's trusts have to end at a specified age (Option 1) or not (Option 2).

We would do the opposite. We wouldn't mention Option 1. When a client proposes mandating distribution at a specified age, we say that the better way is to give the child control over his/her trust at that age. For this purpose, control means the right to become a trustee, the power to remove and replace his/her co-trustee (provide the replacement trustee is not a close relative or subordinate employee), and the power to appoint (give or leave) the trust assets to anyone he/she wants (except the child or his/her estate or creditors).

There are good tax and trusts and estates lawyers from every different major in college. Everything else being equal, I would prefer someone with a critical thinking major such as English or history. However, I know many good tax and trusts and estates lawyers who majored in various other subjects.

An LL.M. (master's) degree in taxation is a good sign. The LL.M. program is intense.

You are correct that at $4 million you're in the middle in terms of estate planning. It's below the level where you would have to pay Federal estate tax, but it's still a substantial amount of money.
Amy2017 wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:04 am
FIREchief wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 5:28 pm
...
It sounds like you're being offered a conduit trust. If you have significant qualified retirement assets (IRA, 401K, qualified pension rollovers, etc) this is generally not the desirable approach. You instead should consider an accumulation trust. There have been many posts on this forum on this topic. bsteiner is the expert, so you may wish to just review some of his recent posts in the relevant threads.
I think you are right about conduit trust after reading the detailed fee schedule again. It said no additional charge for use of conduit trust planning for benefit of children after death of single individual or after death of the surviving spouse if working with a couple. If want IRA/QP benefits to be paid to trust(s) for benefit of the surviving spouse under a Will or RLT, including if planning for possible use of disclaimer by surviving spouse, add $1700 if working with both members of a married couple. I am pretty sure $4400 is the maximum my husband will allow me to spend on what he think this "useless estate planning" if I don't want to get a divorce :? . So I guess conduit trust will be what we will get.
FIREchief is correct. Conduit trusts (a trust for a child that receives IRA benefits but mandates that the amounts received from the IRA have to be paid out to the beneficiary on a current basis) generally don't make sense. Over time, all of the assets of the trust (the IRA benefits) are thrown into the children's estates, and exposed to the children's creditors and spouses, thus defeating the purpose of the trust. A discretionary trust (usually called an accumulation trust since it gives the trustees discretion to accumulate the amounts received from the IRA) generally makes more sense.

I discuss this in my article on trusts as beneficiaries of retirement benefits in the March 2004 issue of BNA Tax Management's Estates, Gifts & Trusts Journal: https://www.kkwc.com/wp-content/uploads ... 132954.pdf.

Many otherwise good lawyers aren't familiar with this. So if the lawyer does a good job on everything else, he should still get a high grade.

Leaving retirement benefits to the spouse in trust rather than outright gives up the opportunity for the spouse to roll them over into his/her own IRA, name new beneficiaries, do Roth conversions (if desirable), and get a longer stretch. You would only do that if there were a compelling non-tax reason to do so, which isn't the case here.

If you're leaving your estates to each other, you would probably want to include disclaimer trusts in your Wills. A disclaimer trust says that if the surviving spouse disclaims (waives) some or all of the deceased spouse's estate, the disclaimed portion goes into a trust for the surviving spouse's benefit. While you might not need the disclaimer trusts (if the surviving spouse accepts all of the deceased spouse's estate), there could be a situation where the surviving spouse might prefer to have some of all of the deceased spouse's assets pass to him/her in trust rather than outright.

However, including discretionary trusts for your children for the IRA benefits and including disclaimer trusts shouldn't add much to the cost. The cost of drafting your Wills should be about the same regardless of whether you include these features, just as the cost of drafting your Wills should be the same regardless of whether you mandate distributions to your children at specified ages.
FIREchief wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 12:54 pm
Amy2017 wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:04 am

I think you are right about conduit trust after reading the detailed fee schedule again. It said no additional charge for use of conduit trust planning for benefit of children after death of single individual or after death of the surviving spouse if working with a couple.

So I guess conduit trust will be what we will get.
This is a red flag to me. It suggests that you may be dealing with an attorney who sells "one size fits all" solutions, and isn't really doing any additional work for you as a client. I call them "trust mills," because they just spit out a series of substantially identical estate plans regardless of true client needs. I've been given several sales pitches for these abominations, but fortunately I took pause, educated myself a lot more, and didn't pay one of these places $5K for something that didn't meet my needs (but came in a REALLY nice huge leather binder). I hate to say this, but in your situation, maybe you need to slow the whole thing down and investigate some better options.
I'm not sure that conduit trusts is a red flag. But the "detailed fee schedule" could be a red flag. As noted above, the cost of drafting your Wills should be about the same regardless of whether you provide for each other outright with a disclaimer trust as backup, in mandatory credit shelter (bypass) trusts, or in Clayton QTIP trusts (in which the executors get to decide how the estate is divided between a marital trust and a credit shelter trust). Similarly, the cost should be about the same regardless of whether the trusts for your children have to end at a specified age, and regardless of whether the trusts for your children for your IRA benefits are conduit trusts or discretionary (accumulation) trusts. Also, most law firms work on a time basis, since the cost of the same project can vary considerably from one client to another depending on the client's decision making process.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by FIREchief » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:39 pm

bsteiner wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:16 pm
Similarly, the cost should be about the same regardless of whether the trusts for your children have to end at a specified age, and regardless of whether the trusts for your children for your IRA benefits are conduit trusts or discretionary (accumulation) trusts. Also, most law firms work on a time basis, since the cost of the same project can vary considerably from one client to another depending on the client's decision making process.
The firms that I have been exposed to all just roll the conduit trust language into a more conventional A/B trust or joint trust. I believe that they see an accumulation trust as requiring a separate stand alone trust (which, of course, is the customary approach) and that it would be more work for them. I think that would translate into higher costs for an accumulation trust approach.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:24 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:39 pm
bsteiner wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:16 pm
Similarly, the cost should be about the same regardless of whether the trusts for your children have to end at a specified age, and regardless of whether the trusts for your children for your IRA benefits are conduit trusts or discretionary (accumulation) trusts. Also, most law firms work on a time basis, since the cost of the same project can vary considerably from one client to another depending on the client's decision making process.
The firms that I have been exposed to all just roll the conduit trust language into a more conventional A/B trust or joint trust. I believe that they see an accumulation trust as requiring a separate stand alone trust (which, of course, is the customary approach) and that it would be more work for them. I think that would translate into higher costs for an accumulation trust approach.
Each child will have two trusts, one for his/her share of the retirement benefits and one for his/her share of the other assets. They'll be identical except to the extent necessary to qualify for the stretch.

It doesn't matter whether the trusts that receive the retirement benefits are in the Will (or in your case since you're in California in the revocable trust) or in a separate trust instrument It doesn't matter, unless the lawyer charges by the document. We find it easier to put the trusts for the children that receive the retirement benefits n the Will (or in the revocable trust if there's a reason to create a revocable trust in a given case) to be sure that they're identical to the trusts for the other assets except to the extent necessary to qualify for the stretch.

There's not much additional cost to this. Since the same reasons for providing for children in trust rather than outright apply to retirement benefits as for other assets, we do this routinely.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by tadamsmar » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:36 am

JBTX wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:29 pm
tadamsmar wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:05 pm
You "have investment in Roth IRA, 401K, 529 Plan, etc. accounts worth around $1 million."

Do lawyers even have to expertise to advise you on how to handle those? Do they typically do that? It's typically best that those do not go to the estate. The will only covers the estate. I used a lawyer for my will, but I did not get anyone to advise me on how to set up beneficiaries on my accounts.

I just looked at my POAs that were prepared by an expensive lawyer. It has clauses about the POA having the right to change and recover my passwords, but I don't think that is consistent with the policies of Vanguard and other brokerages. Expensive lawyers may not do a perfect job either!

You do need a will simply because the inheritance plan in your original post is probably not the default plan that your state will impose if you die intestate. "intestate" means "without a will". You can look up the intestate laws in your state. If you have no will, then the courts will appoint guardians for the minors if need be and a conservator if they inherit any significant amount.
As to IRAS, ETC, typically they first go to a spouse, but beyond that if both spouses die they have to go somewhere.
The "somewhere" is the estate by default if it's Vanguard retirement account.

Looks like Vanguard non-retirement accounts go to your estate, not your spouse, by default.
If you want them to go to minor children you need to take additional steps.
It's a good idea, but you don't strictly need to if you are OK with the intestate laws of your state and are willing to allow the courts to decide on arrangements for minors.
I don't think you can leave assets outright to a minor.
You can leave assets to a minor. But the minor cannot own them. A conservator is appointed by the courts. The rule likely vary depending on the state. I think you can recommend a conservator in your will or estate plan and the courts will review and likely appoint that person.
You can leave it to a trust in the child's name, but if you don't set it up right the ira will have to be distributed in 5 years, with a tax bill, vs stretching it over the lifetime of the child.

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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am

Thank you so much for all the thoughtful comments. The other estate planning attorney my neighbor recommended has a free workshop in August. I think I will make my decision after attending her workshop so to compare.

One thing the first estate planning attorney emphasized is that our state is a probate friendly state. To him, probate proceeding in our state is not an issue at all. Estate tax used to be an issue. It was not an issue any more for most people. So the only thing really matters now is asset protection. On the short questionnaires provided, it specifically asked whether we have any significant properties in several community property or marital property states. The documents they will provide us is part of standard documents for married couple with similar requirements. Otherwise, they will charge more. It is under 'Estate Planning Standard Document Fixed Fee Schedule'. But I image it will not be a simple name plugging in. Otherwise, it won't take that long to prepare. There is no reason for them to hold the documents if they could get in done more quickly. They were voted for 'Martindale-Hubbell: Highest legal ability and ethical standards rating (AV) (5.0 out of 5.0)' and 'Martindale-Hubbell: listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers', in addition to several other honors and awards. I don't know prestigious this Martindale-Hubbell thing is. But it seems a good one. One thing I like this expensive attorney is that he gets your points very quickly. It feels like he has met a lot of people with mindset similar to ours so he understands your requirements even though we may not know exactly what we want. I think that is a sign of a good attorney.

JBTX
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by JBTX » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:31 am

Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful comments. The other estate planning attorney my neighbor recommended has a free workshop in August. I think I will make my decision after attending her workshop so to compare.

One thing the first estate planning attorney emphasized is that our state is a probate friendly state. To him, probate proceeding in our state is not an issue at all. Estate tax used to be an issue. It was not an issue any more for most people. So the only thing really matters now is asset protection. On the short questionnaires provided, it specifically asked whether we have any significant properties in several community property or marital property states. The documents they will provide us is part of standard documents for married couple with similar requirements. Otherwise, they will charge more. It is under 'Estate Planning Standard Document Fixed Fee Schedule'. But I image it will not be a simple name plugging in. Otherwise, it won't take that long to prepare. There is no reason for them to hold the documents if they could get in done more quickly. They were voted for 'Martindale-Hubbell: Highest legal ability and ethical standards rating (AV) (5.0 out of 5.0)' and 'Martindale-Hubbell: listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers', in addition to several other honors and awards. I don't know prestigious this Martindale-Hubbell thing is. But it seems a good one. One thing I like this expensive attorney is that he gets your points very quickly. It feels like he has met a lot of people with mindset similar to ours so he understands your requirements even though we may not know exactly what we want. I think that is a sign of a good attorney.
You may find that you get different recommendations from different attorneys on setting up a revocable living trust. Many now will tell you, like your first attorney, and some in here, that in probate friendly states they aren't necessary, and aren't worth the complication and cost and you can do most of what you need in a living get trust in your will. There will be others who will still push the revocable living trust anyway. Most people probably don't need them, but there are some benefits in some instances

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:53 am

JBTX wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:31 am
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful comments. The other estate planning attorney my neighbor recommended has a free workshop in August. I think I will make my decision after attending her workshop so to compare.

One thing the first estate planning attorney emphasized is that our state is a probate friendly state. To him, probate proceeding in our state is not an issue at all. Estate tax used to be an issue. It was not an issue any more for most people. So the only thing really matters now is asset protection. On the short questionnaires provided, it specifically asked whether we have any significant properties in several community property or marital property states. The documents they will provide us is part of standard documents for married couple with similar requirements. Otherwise, they will charge more. It is under 'Estate Planning Standard Document Fixed Fee Schedule'. But I image it will not be a simple name plugging in. Otherwise, it won't take that long to prepare. There is no reason for them to hold the documents if they could get in done more quickly. They were voted for 'Martindale-Hubbell: Highest legal ability and ethical standards rating (AV) (5.0 out of 5.0)' and 'Martindale-Hubbell: listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers', in addition to several other honors and awards. I don't know prestigious this Martindale-Hubbell thing is. But it seems a good one. One thing I like this expensive attorney is that he gets your points very quickly. It feels like he has met a lot of people with mindset similar to ours so he understands your requirements even though we may not know exactly what we want. I think that is a sign of a good attorney.
You may find that you get different recommendations from different attorneys on setting up a revocable living trust. Many now will tell you, like your first attorney, and some in here, that in probate friendly states they aren't necessary, and aren't worth the complication and cost and you can do most of what you need in a living get trust in your will. There will be others who will still push the revocable living trust anyway. Most people probably don't need them, but there are some benefits in some instances
It will be $2100 more to the fixed fee above if RLT is main dispositive document instead of a will. Actually we were told if we could not name someone as the guardian of our children, we must use RLT instead of Will. We don't like the idea of setting up RLT because I think it will make our current business plan inflexible, such as if we want to acquire more rental properties down the road. We are so afraid of making title change these days because it could trigger changes of landloard insurance, umbrella insurance, home equity line, etc. The attorney agreed and assured us that we could leave the titles of all of our properties unchanged. With enough umbrella insurance, he think whether a property is under LLC or not is not that important either. That is the reason he referred a property and casualty insurance advisor to review our insurance. We could make everything as tight as possible after we die, but in the end, I think we still need to think how to live first :D .
Last edited by Amy2017 on Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JBTX
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by JBTX » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:11 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:53 am
JBTX wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:31 am
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful comments. The other estate planning attorney my neighbor recommended has a free workshop in August. I think I will make my decision after attending her workshop so to compare.

One thing the first estate planning attorney emphasized is that our state is a probate friendly state. To him, probate proceeding in our state is not an issue at all. Estate tax used to be an issue. It was not an issue any more for most people. So the only thing really matters now is asset protection. On the short questionnaires provided, it specifically asked whether we have any significant properties in several community property or marital property states. The documents they will provide us is part of standard documents for married couple with similar requirements. Otherwise, they will charge more. It is under 'Estate Planning Standard Document Fixed Fee Schedule'. But I image it will not be a simple name plugging in. Otherwise, it won't take that long to prepare. There is no reason for them to hold the documents if they could get in done more quickly. They were voted for 'Martindale-Hubbell: Highest legal ability and ethical standards rating (AV) (5.0 out of 5.0)' and 'Martindale-Hubbell: listed in Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers', in addition to several other honors and awards. I don't know prestigious this Martindale-Hubbell thing is. But it seems a good one. One thing I like this expensive attorney is that he gets your points very quickly. It feels like he has met a lot of people with mindset similar to ours so he understands your requirements even though we may not know exactly what we want. I think that is a sign of a good attorney.
You may find that you get different recommendations from different attorneys on setting up a revocable living trust. Many now will tell you, like your first attorney, and some in here, that in probate friendly states they aren't necessary, and aren't worth the complication and cost and you can do most of what you need in a living get trust in your will. There will be others who will still push the revocable living trust anyway. Most people probably don't need them, but there are some benefits in some instances
It will be $2100 more to the fixed fee above if RLT is main dispositive document instead of a will. Actually we were told if we could not name someone as the guardian of our children, we must use RLT instead of Will. We don't like the idea of setting up RLT because I think it will make our current business plan inflexible, such as if we want to acquire more rental properties down the road. We are so afraid of making title change these days because it could trigger changes of rental insurance, umbrella insurance, home equity line, etc. The attorney agreed and assured us that we could leave the titles of all of our properties unchanged. With enough umbrella insurance, he think whether a property is under LLC or not is not that important either. That is the reason he referred a property and casualty insurance advisor to review our insurance. We could make everything as tight as possible after we die, but in the end, I think we still need to think how to live first :D .
I'm not an attorney or an expert, but that first comment sounds suspect. Why would you not want to appoint a guardian for your kids in a will?


Yes, you can leave assets out of the living trust and they will flow through to the pour over will. But if you don't put stuff in the trust it kind of defeats the purpose of having an RLT. That's one of the problems with RLTs.
People spend all this money setting them up, but then don't put the assets in the trust (I have an RLT and am guilty of this).


We put our house in the RLT, and it is a minor pain for refinancing a day you should change applicable insurance policies. I'm not sure I'd put the house in the RLT if I had to do it over again.

There can be benefits of an RLT, but it just may not be worth the complication and cost in some cases.

With two young kids and substantial assets, I would think you do want trusts for the kids if you both die. Those can come from the will or from an RLT. I don't know enough to know if one setup is better than the other.

Amy2017
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:29 pm

I'm not an attorney or an expert, but that first comment sounds suspect. Why would you not want to appoint a guardian for your kids in a will?
At first, I was thinking about who could provide our kids the same kind of comfort we provide by ourselves. I saw no one. Then again, I think we were not realistic. So in the end, I think my sister-in-law is good enough. That solves the problem of naming a guardian in a will. Otherwise, the attorney said we need to have a RLT and name some corporate trustee as the guardian. We don't like that idea at all. The options 2 the attorney recommends, set up trusts for my two kids, but assets will not be put into the trusts until we die, kind of trusts under a framework of a Will. The other option is everything under a framework of a RLT now, which will add $2100. Like you said, I think you need to transfer everything into the RLT. Otherwise, it is a waste of money. This is my understanding how these two approaches work.

bsteiner
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by bsteiner » Sun Jul 22, 2018 3:30 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
... The other estate planning attorney my neighbor recommended has a free workshop in August. ...
That's not a favorable sign.
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
...
One thing the first estate planning attorney emphasized is that our state is a probate friendly state. To him, probate proceeding in our state is not an issue at all. ...
That's a good sign. Revocable trusts make sense in some cases, and in some states, such as California where executors need court approval for various things, and Delaware where the fee payable to the court is 1.75% of the estate (other than the real estate). But they're overhyped and oversold, and for most people in most states they aren't necessary, and they tend to be a distraction.

Since California is by far the largest state (the population is about 40 million, or about 1/8 of the country), lots of articles are geared to California, and they tend to spill over to other states.

It would help to know what state you're in, both for this and for state income and estate tax purposes.
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
...
They were voted for 'Martindale-Hubbell: Highest legal ability and ethical standards rating (AV) .... I don't know prestigious this Martindale-Hubbell thing is. But it seems a good one. ...
Martindale-Hubbell is real. The ratings are anonymous peer ratings. If a lawyer wants a rating, he/she gives them the names of several dozen other lawyers who already have ratings. If someone gives them my name, Martindale will write to them (nowadays by e-mail), and sends me several dozen names to rate, but doesn't tell me which one was the one who gave them my name. There's also no grade inflation. An A rating is good.

Most of the others can be gamed. The others might not know to give more credit to writing for Estate Planning or Trusts & Estates or Probate & Property than to writing for a local weekly newspaper, or to give more credit to speaking for a continuing legal education program sponsored by the American Bar Association than to speaking at a senior center.
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:08 am
... I like this expensive attorney ...
I wouldn't call him expensive.
JBTX wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:31 am
...
You may find that you get different recommendations from different attorneys on setting up a revocable living trust. Many now will tell you, like your first attorney, and some in here, that in probate friendly states they aren't necessary, and aren't worth the complication and cost and you can do most of what you need in a living get trust in your will. ... Most people probably don't need them, but there are some benefits in some instances
They make sense in some cases, and in some states, but not for most people in most states. The original poster hasn't presented any facts that would suggest that they would be appropriate in her case. There was nothing in the facts presented that would suggest that they would make sense in this case.
Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:53 am
...
It will be $2100 more to the fixed fee above if RLT is main dispositive document instead of a will. Actually we were told if we could not name someone as the guardian of our children, we must use RLT instead of Will. ...

The additional cost sounds reasonable, except nothing in the facts presented suggests that revocable trusts would be appropriate in your case. However, revocable trusts have nothing to do with guardians. You should name guardians for your children in any event. Even if you don't have a perfect choice, you should pick the person(s) you think would be best. If you don't, the court will.

JBTX
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by JBTX » Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:44 pm

Amy2017 wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 12:29 pm
I'm not an attorney or an expert, but that first comment sounds suspect. Why would you not want to appoint a guardian for your kids in a will?
At first, I was thinking about who could provide our kids the same kind of comfort we provide by ourselves. I saw no one. Then again, I think we were not realistic. So in the end, I think my sister-in-law is good enough. That solves the problem of naming a guardian in a will. Otherwise, the attorney said we need to have a RLT and name some corporate trustee as the guardian. We don't like that idea at all. The options 2 the attorney recommends, set up trusts for my two kids, but assets will not be put into the trusts until we die, kind of trusts under a framework of a Will. The other option is everything under a framework of a RLT now, which will add $2100. Like you said, I think you need to transfer everything into the RLT. Otherwise, it is a waste of money. This is my understanding how these two approaches work.
Even if the choices aren't great, I'd aways want to make the choice of kid's guardian vs having the courts try to figure that out. If you have trusts for kids, the person who is the guardian doesn't have to be the trustee of the trust. You want the guardian to be someone who can raise your kids. You want the trustee to be someone who can take care of trust funds responsibly. Those 2 still sets don't necessarily overlap. In our case the guardian and kids trust trustees are not the same.

Again, I'm not an attorney nor play one on TV! However, BSteiner in the post above is and is someone worth listening to.

Amy2017
Posts: 67
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Amy2017 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:19 am

I went to the group workshop given by another attorney yesterday. The attorney seems good, but I think the first attorney is a better fit for me. Here are my thoughts. Hopefully this will help other people make their decision.

One of the topics she emphasized a lot is Medicaid Planning for nursing home payment. Even with an attorney’s help, I am not sure we will ever be able to qualify for it. She also mentioned the importance of LTC insurance, which we don’t carry at this time and are not sure whether we should buy one. The attorney is at least 65 years old. That makes me wonder how long she will be around before retiring. At the end of workshop, we were given an evaluation paper. One of the questions is how much is your net worth? I am surprised that the highest bracket you could choose is $900K. So I assume this attorney has more experience with smaller assets. The attorney only lists the price of her estate planning maintenance program, but I am quite sure the initial document fee will be less than the first attorney. Still in the end, we think we will go ahead with the first attorney instead. The first attorney is also a fellow on actec.org. Based on other posts on bogleheads, this qualification is overkill for most clients. But it makes me feel somewhat better about the fee I will be charged. At least it gives me a reason why I need to pay him more.

Thanks a lot for all the replies here. Now I have learned enough estate planning that I think I could at least carry a meaningful conversation with any estate planning attorney.

Dottie57
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by Dottie57 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:40 am

Amy2017 wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:05 pm
bsteiner wrote:
Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:49 am
The book has some useful information, and is popular here. But it's geared to community property states, particularly California.
Do you have any recommendation of more appropriate books for my situation? Something not too difficult for average folks to understand and follow?

Thanks.
A good estate lawyer will educate you. Please make an appointment ASAP. Setting up who will take care of your kids is uber important.

trueblueky
Posts: 1312
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Re: Draft a will with legalzoom or other online legal help

Post by trueblueky » Fri Aug 10, 2018 10:46 am

jimmy123 wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:01 pm
But not sure how much those attorney usually charge?
So ask a few. It's a rare attorney that doesn't want new clients and those that don't will quickly tell you.

I paid $800 for will, trust, financial PoA, healthcare PoA, etc. This was at a fairly large local law firm with commercial clients, so probably expensive for our town. This was an introduction from a family friend.

Though I am sure the actual documents would be very similar to what could be produced online but we got a lot of value from the discussion with the attorney and I sleep a little better knowing we have a professional set of documents that are correctly executed in our state.

Money well spent IMHO.
+1
When we retired and relocated, we updated all our documents (wills, medical POA, advanced health care directive, etc) for $800 with a youngish elder law attorney at a recommended firm in our new location.

Our situation is not complex (grown children, no trust).

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