Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

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pb1996
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Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:46 pm

Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by pb1996 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:43 pm

There seems to be some disagreement on bogleheads about how trustworthy Willmaker should be for simple estate planning purposes. Some people seem to strongly suggest having a professional attorney review things even after doing it on Willmaker.
Our family/financial/estate situation seems to be fairly straightforward (2 married adults, soon to be 2 kids, straightforward finances), but with 2nd baby on the way I soon need to update my will.

I am faced with the option of signing up for ARAG legal insurance for $260 which will allow free estate planning services from 2 local in network attorneys (who according to their websites do primarily estate planning) or from other general practice attorneys. None of my google searches have helped me figure out if any of these attorneys are any good, and none of my acquaintances have used any of them to provide a reference.
Alternatively there is a local "fancy" estate planning law firm (they list all their certifications and awards on their website, they do a lot of local talks/events about estate planning, etc) that does not accept ARAG insurance.
My final option would be just to update my will via Willmaker.

How do I decide between which of these 3 options make the most sense? Is even a generic attorney who does the occasional estate planning better than Willmaker? Would an ARAG covered attorney who seems to do primarily estate planning necessarily be subpar compared to one that doesn't accept insurance? Would a premium price paid for the "fancy" estate planning firm potentially be worthwhile?

Thanks!

ThisTimeItsDifferent
Posts: 246
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:51 pm

Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by ThisTimeItsDifferent » Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:32 pm

I've been disappointed with Arag. The Arag lawyers I have found have not been familiar with stretch distributions in trusts.I feel like I have wasted my Arag subscription fees.

bsteiner
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Location: NYC/NJ/FL

Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by bsteiner » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:40 pm

pb1996 wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:43 pm
There seems to be some disagreement on bogleheads about how trustworthy Willmaker should be for simple estate planning purposes. Some people seem to strongly suggest having a professional attorney review things even after doing it on Willmaker.

Our family/financial/estate situation seems to be fairly straightforward (2 married adults, soon to be 2 kids, straightforward finances), but with 2nd baby on the way I soon need to update my will.

I am faced with the option of signing up for ARAG legal insurance for $260 which will allow free estate planning services from 2 local in network attorneys (who according to their websites do primarily estate planning) or from other general practice attorneys. None of my google searches have helped me figure out if any of these attorneys are any good, and none of my acquaintances have used any of them to provide a reference.
Alternatively there is a local "fancy" estate planning law firm (they list all their certifications and awards on their website, they do a lot of local talks/events about estate planning, etc) that does not accept ARAG insurance.

My final option would be just to update my will via Willmaker.

How do I decide between which of these 3 options make the most sense? Is even a generic attorney who does the occasional estate planning better than Willmaker? Would an ARAG covered attorney who seems to do primarily estate planning necessarily be subpar compared to one that doesn't accept insurance? Would a premium price paid for the "fancy" estate planning firm potentially be worthwhile?
...
My guess is that if Willmaker is like LegalZoom it may well be better than the lawyers in the plan, the general practice lawyers or the lawyers who do a lot of local events.

A nationally prominent trusts and estates lawyer, now retired, did a Will for himself (as a test, not to actually sign it) on LegalZoom and said it was pretty good, though it didn't offer all of the choices he would have wanted.

Of course, you would have to know what options to select.

Doing it yourself and have a lawyer review it is probably the worst of the five choices you mentioned. It would probably cost considerably more to review a Will prepared by someone not a trusts and estates lawyer, ascertain the relevant information and revise the draft or advise as to how to revise the draft than it would cost to prepare it in the first instance.

There are two other choices in addition to the five you mentioned (Willmaker, WIllmaker with a lawyer reviewing it, the lawyers in the plan, the general practice lawyers or the lawyers who do lots of local events). One is to pick a good lawyer in a firm with a good trusts and estates practice. If that's not within your budget, perhaps you can find someone who worked in such a firm and left to open his/her own practice and can do a reasonably good job on commonly occurring situations at a cost less than at his/her previous firm.
ThisTimeItsDifferent wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:32 pm
I've been disappointed with Arag. The Arag lawyers I have found have not been familiar with stretch distributions in trusts. I feel like I have wasted my Arag subscription fees.
It's not reasonable to expect that for the price the original poster mentioned, or even at that price with another zero added at the end.

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dwickenh
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Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by dwickenh » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:13 pm

I had our wills prepared by a local lawyer at the cost of 350.00 each. I then bought Willmaker to complete my health directive and power of attorney. I found the program easy to work with and inclusive of what I needed. If I had it to do again, I would have done it all on Willmaker.
The market is the most efficient mechanism anywhere in the world for transferring wealth from impatient people to patient people.” | — Warren Buffett

ThisTimeItsDifferent
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Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by ThisTimeItsDifferent » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:48 pm

bsteiner wrote:
ThisTimeItsDifferent wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 3:32 pm
I've been disappointed with Arag. The Arag lawyers I have found have not been familiar with stretch distributions in trusts. I feel like I have wasted my Arag subscription fees.
It's not reasonable to expect that for the price the original poster mentioned, or even at that price with another zero added at the end.
Thanks for the feedback. I've read many of your posts as well as Natalie Choate's and Ed Slott's books. Given both Arag''s fees to me and reimbursements to lawyers, I don't see it useful for estate planning of any complexity, but I also don't see it as too complex. Arag does not allow them to bill for the balance either.

Will most lawyers generally provide an initial estimate of the hours required for a will and trust for minor children (nothing too complicated, no businesses, partnerships or special needs, mostly just a few mutual funds)?

J295
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Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by J295 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:58 pm

Why do you need to update your will? Standing alone, typically the birth of another child does not require a codicil to a well drafted simple will

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Peter Foley
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Re: Attorney vs Willmaker for simple estate planning

Post by Peter Foley » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:05 pm

After we had children we went to an attorney to have a will drawn up. I think having something in place to provide for offspring who are young is worth the expense. We wanted someone who had experience with the issues of guardianships and managing money for minors to advise us.

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