I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

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MickMal
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I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by MickMal » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:25 pm

My wife and I are in our mid 40's (no children) and need to do a will. Our estate is not complex (own a home, 401k, IRA's, bank and brokerage accounts) with no other debt besides the mortgage.

We don't want to spend a lot on an attorney and thinking an online company (i.e. legalzoom) or software may be a good option for us.

We would appreciate any feedback or advice...Thanks..

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JoeRetire
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by JoeRetire » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:29 pm

Shop for inexpensive attorneys.
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anon_investor
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by anon_investor » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:15 pm

If you and your spouse plan to be each others' beneficiaries, if your home is jointly owned and you/spouse are named as each other's beneficiaries on your IRS/bank/brokerage accounts (or if joint accounts); then if either of you died, then all of those assets should pass to the surviving spouse without the need for a will or having go through the sometimes long probate process. Obviously a will is likely better, especially if there are other assets or for non-spousal beneficiaries (since you indicated no children). The same would go for life insurance, if the spouse is listed as the beneficiary (instead of the estate).

If you have a complicated situation, it may be worth it to find a local attorney, that you can meet with in person so they can help capture what you really want on the will and to ensure it is compliant with your local laws. Some of those online wills may be too generic and not capture what you really want or are not compliant with local laws. Often times, local lawyers are not that expensive, especially for simple wills. You can always call around and ask how much they charge. If you are trying to go cheap, if you do not have a complicated situation or assets outside of your home/accounts, a will may not even be necessary.

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Sandtrap
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:19 pm

Seek reputable legal counsel versed specifically in estate planning.

(not necessarily the most inexpensive or have a flat rate discount coupon). :shock:

A will or trust done well to fit your unique needs is worth every dollar.

j :happy
Last edited by Sandtrap on Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Broken Man 1999
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:29 pm

MickMal wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:25 pm
My wife and I are in our mid 40's (no children) and need to do a will. Our estate is not complex (own a home, 401k, IRA's, bank and brokerage accounts) with no other debt besides the mortgage.

We don't want to spend a lot on an attorney and thinking an online company (i.e. legalzoom) or software may be a good option for us.

We would appreciate any feedback or advice...Thanks..
What do you consider a lot of money to spend?'

I'm not being snarky, just seeing what $$$ you might be willing to spend. DW and I set up our estate plan via wills, POAs, Medical Directives, for $1,500. We are in Florida. We have children and grandchildren, different circumstance.

Me, I prefer paying for certain things, including legal matters. But, everything could work out fine using online documents from LegalZoom, NOLO, etc.
Or, it might not.

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

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MickMal
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by MickMal » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:38 pm

We do not have a complicated situation and are each other's beneficiaries on all accounts. The home is jointly owned with right of survivorship. Our concern is should something happen to both of us together that we currently have no will in place.

Maybe I am naive but thought if we just wanted to list our property and bank/investment accounts split between two people that an online service or software could suit our needs and avoid the cost of hiring a local (Los Angeles) attorney.

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CAsage
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by CAsage » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:43 pm

I am one of the rare fruitcases that thinks a person who can manage a $$6~7 figure estate/household can bequeath it without a lawyer. You definitely need a lawyer for any possible feuding heirs, complex property, spendthrifts, IRA trusts etc. And going "low side compliance" now, since it is quite likely that either you will live another 40 years, one of you will die first, and who knows about the last one... IRAs and 401k can be left first to the other spouse, then secondarily to someone/something else (no will needed there). Joint assets already pass outside the will (and the second to die will need either a will, a trust, or a TOD arrangement (best!) for those sole assets). Only sole assets without a beneficiary need to be included in a will.
The most difficult part of estate planning is choosing a reliable person to close out the estate (executor), pay the final bills, and deciding where to leave it all. That's likely to be a decision the second of you to die will be making. If your assets are properly titled now (joint or beneficiary on everything) you don't need two wills yet.... I would recommend a book by Nolo Press on Estate Planning and their Willmaker software for a cheap interim solution. I used theirs to create my will and a trust for the house.... The devil's advocates on this site will chime in that I won't know if it works, but this is a site where we are all coaxed to manage our assets for life without a special financial guru... I am not a lawyer. Nor advice columnist....

Edit to add: Read the Nolo Press book on Estate Planning, even if you decide to hire a lawyer later. That way, you will wrestle with all the hard questions (executor, who to leave it to, options etc) on your time, without having to pay a lawyer to educate you. Medical directives are also really useful.
Last edited by CAsage on Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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daheld
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by daheld » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:44 pm

My wife and I got a will and POA's for both of us for a grand total of......$600.

Seriously, just call an attorney.

HomeStretch
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by HomeStretch » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:08 pm

+1 on using an attorney for wills and financial/health POAs/directives.

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MickMal
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by MickMal » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:13 pm

Thanks...$600 is not bad at all..

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augryphon
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by augryphon » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:15 pm

its worth the few hundred dollars an attorney charges to have this done professionally.

if you want your will done free, you might try what my DW and I did. Have a child, raise him, pay for his college and law school, and if he's a good kid, he'll do your will for free.

oldfatguy
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by oldfatguy » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:28 pm

My state provides a template for a "basic will" and a "basic will with trust" in the state statutes. Perhaps your state has something similar?

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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by Flobes » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:37 pm

MickMal wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:25 pm
My wife and I are in our mid 40's (no children) and need to do a will. Our estate is not complex.

We don't want to spend a lot on an attorney and thinking an online company (i.e. legalzoom) or software may be a good option for us.
To legalize how your stuff will be handled:
Buy Willmaker software, produced by Nolo and Quicken. Widely available and frequently discounted.
Use it to understand all the questions, issues, matters and concerns inherent in creating a will to dispatch your possessions and assets at death.

To legalize how you will be handled:
Get Five Wishes.
Use it to understand how living wills work, what's involved in medical POA, life and death decisions, DNRs, comforts, final wishes, etc.

Once you thoughtfully and carefully plod through both of these resources, you will learn just how complicated your needs are or aren't.

Remember that, although unlikely, it is possible you two will die at the same time, and it is also possible you might be very injured at the same time. So these documents must also appoint somebody else in addition each other.

If you've done this homework, you may well feel comfortable and determine that you're all set.

If you decide you need an attorney, you will save much money as your major decisions will not be made while the attorney's meter is running up the tab. And you'll get better-fitting product because you know the questions and answers going in. Attorney will be able to craft your documents in compliance to local law.

7eight9
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by 7eight9 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:39 pm

The laws of your state will provide for the distribution of your assets in the event that you die intestate. You don't need a will unless you want to provide for an alternative distribution.
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bernoulli
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by bernoulli » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:48 pm

Law degree holder here, and I agree with anon_investor.

Sometimes I think attorneys that are not so competent do more harm than good. I would:

(1) ask around (nextdoor.com, colleagues, friends) for a recommendation for an attorney; I would look for someone who has been in the business for awhile and specializes in will and estate - if I am paying for someone to draft my will, I don't care if the will is simple, I don't want someone who has practiced employment law all his/her professional life to draft my will.

(2) some state bar associations have will templates, for example, the Texas Bar provides guidance here: https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cf ... ntID=33860

the Texas State Law library provides guidance here:

https://guides.sll.texas.gov/wills-and-directives

the Texas Young Lawyers' Associations has a good document on overall estate planning here:

https://tyla.org/resource/texas-probate-passport/

(3) write down a list of assets and what you would like to do with them after you are gone; then check to see if each asset will pass to your heir as is - for example, if you want your spouse to inherit your 401K and your spouse is already the 100% beneficiary, then this asset is taken care of; also, some states have a form called "transfer on death" for real estate, so the title of your house will be automatically changed to your spouse (or whoever the transfer on death form designates); once you go through your list, you might have very little to worry about.

A medical directive is a helpful document. Most states provide the form online, for example, the Texas Health and Human services provide the relevant forms for Texas here:

https://hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/ ... directives

mchampse
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by mchampse » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:52 pm

If you screw up the legal wording in a contract, you have the ability to go in front of a judge and say we’ll this isn’t what we really meant and provide proof in the form of emails, etc. to back that up.

If you are dead or in a coma, you have no such ability. Particularly with a POA if you are incapacitated where its time sensitive, your spouse could have to spend some agonizing time trying to deal with it.

It’s worth getting an attorney if only to get a second pair of eyes on your documents. There’s a 99% chance that you will get everything right, but do you want to take the chance that you didn’t? Some of the self serve will making sites have recommendations for attorneys who presumably are fairly affordable.

GmanJeff
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by GmanJeff » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:57 pm

Use specialized counsel. Part of what you will be paying for is informed input and recommendations from someone who can offer potentially beneficial alternative ways of doing things which you may not consider otherwise, and who can identify potential issues you may not otherwise recognize. If your estate planning will be simple, the fee should reflect that and you probably can prudently engage a solo practitioner or small firm which charges less than larger firms with more diversified and complex practices.

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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by bengal22 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:20 pm

I fall firmly in the camp that believes the OP can do this themselves. All of the assets that they mentioned can be set up as beneficiaries or TOD/POD. Do you know anyone that has a will, like a parent? If it's a simple 3 pager use theirs and put your names in. Specify an executor but if your estate is still simple you won't even need to do probate. I came to this conclusion with just a little research. I will have a substantial estate without ever having someone else do my will or estate planning.
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Watty
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by Watty » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:22 pm

MickMal wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:25 pm
We don't want to spend a lot on an attorney and thinking an online company (i.e. legalzoom) or software may be a good option for us.
I used Legalzoom to do mine and the process seemed good for a simple situation where where are no minor kids. It came with a bundle of related paperwork like power of attorney documents and health care documents.

After you go through the basic process it includes a telephone conference call with a lawyer to go over your choices and answer any questions so my impression is that it is pretty similar with using a local budget lawyer but it costs less.

One thing that is important to understand is that you need to have the beneficiary on any retirement accounts like IRAs or 401ks set up right since those normally are handled outside the will. In our case, other than our house, that is probably 90% of our assets so the will is mainly for to make selling our house, cars, and the other odds and ends easier. The state I live in does not allow a TOD(transfer on death) designation on home and car titles so if you live in a state that allows those you might consider doing that.

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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by LilyFleur » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:42 pm

I did everything--will, POA, Medical Directive--with the will making software from nolo.com. Also on nolo, I learned that my state (California) now has a Transfer-on-Death deed for your home, so I also did that so my children can completely avoid probate without my having to pay for a trust and then them having to pay legal fees to disburse the trust.

I did double-check with Schwab, and there is a particular way to hold title to a brokerage account there to avoid probate, so I made that change... you might want to double check all your accounts.

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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by bengal22 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:00 pm

LilyFleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:42 pm
I did everything--will, POA, Medical Directive--with the will making software from nolo.com. Also on nolo, I learned that my state (California) now has a Transfer-on-Death deed for your home, so I also did that so my children can completely avoid probate without my having to pay for a trust and then them having to pay legal fees to disburse the trust.

I did double-check with Schwab, and there is a particular way to hold title to a brokerage account there to avoid probate, so I made that change... you might want to double check all your accounts.
Great Job!
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Re: I need to do a will...anyone have recommendations/advice?

Post by PoppyA » Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:26 pm

At what point do you want to stop antibiotic’s? If you are likely not to survive, what are your wishes?

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