creating a will

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
Edge215
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 7:07 pm

creating a will

Post by Edge215 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm

thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?

oldfatguy
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by oldfatguy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm

Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 23133
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: creating a will

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:44 pm

Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
You do not know what you do not know! An attorney can help you.

Make a detailed list of all your assets by type (single, joint, retirement, etc.) . Then make a list of who you want to receive your assets in the event of your death - and what fraction each would get. Then, for each such beneficiary, list what you want to do with that beneficiary's share if that beneficiary predeceases you. In some cases, it might be nothing - with that share split among the remaining beneficiaries. In other cases, it might be a child of the beneficiary, etc.

Then, find an attorney that is experienced in estate work and has been doing it for a long time. Such attorneys charge differently for doing wills. Some charge a fixed amount for the initial consultation and a fixed fee for the will. Others operate strictly on an hourly basis. The choice is yours.

Sometimes such attorneys offer a free , group get acquainted session.

jpelder
Posts: 713
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:56 pm
Location: Concord, NC

Re: creating a will

Post by jpelder » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:49 pm

If you have minor children or a complicated situation, I would absolutely get an attorney. If you'd be fine with a chance that your state's intestacy laws would kick in, then LegalZoom would probably work

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 23133
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: creating a will

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:57 pm

Let me add my opinion that spending a little more for a more complex will (such as providing for subsequent beneficiaries when the original beneficiary predeceases you, etc.) can, and almost always will, make such a will good for a lot more years. Too simple a will may need to be redrafted much more often.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 18480
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by Watty » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm

oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm
Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.

oldfatguy
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by oldfatguy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:18 pm

Watty wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm
Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.
I think it would be adequate for most people with minor children, too, unless there are complicated circumstances.

downshiftme
Posts: 1104
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2007 6:11 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by downshiftme » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:27 pm

One of the big advantages to doing a will with a lawyer is that whatever steps your state requires to make the will legal and in force will be known to the lawyer and they will include the signing and witnessing or whatever is required. If you draft your own will using online forms and then fail to properly sign, witness, or whatever is required, your draft will will have no effect and will not be enforceable.

oldfatguy
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by oldfatguy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:31 pm

downshiftme wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:27 pm
One of the big advantages to doing a will with a lawyer is that whatever steps your state requires to make the will legal and in force will be known to the lawyer and they will include the signing and witnessing or whatever is required. If you draft your own will using online forms and then fail to properly sign, witness, or whatever is required, your draft will will have no effect and will not be enforceable.
if you fail to execute anything properly it won't work. Doesn't matter if you are baking a cake, installing a light fixture, or making a will. That's like saying, "If you do it wrong, it will be wrong."

Gill
Posts: 6013
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:38 pm
Location: Florida

Re: creating a will

Post by Gill » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:10 pm

oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:31 pm
downshiftme wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:27 pm
One of the big advantages to doing a will with a lawyer is that whatever steps your state requires to make the will legal and in force will be known to the lawyer and they will include the signing and witnessing or whatever is required. If you draft your own will using online forms and then fail to properly sign, witness, or whatever is required, your draft will will have no effect and will not be enforceable.
if you fail to execute anything properly it won't work. Doesn't matter if you are baking a cake, installing a light fixture, or making a will. That's like saying, "If you do it wrong, it will be wrong."
One big difference is that you can always install another light fixture or bake another cake. However, if your will is determined to be invalid you are dead and there are no second chances.
Gill
Cost basis is redundant. One has a basis in an investment | One advises and gives advice | One should follow the principle of investing one's principal

ochotona
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:08 pm
Location: Houston, TX
Contact:

Re: creating a will

Post by ochotona » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:20 pm

Has anyone ever tried the Fidelity Estate Planner wizard on their website? If so, was it useful?

https://www.fidelity.com/go/fidelity-estate-planner
Peter W., MBA, CRPC

Lee_WSP
Posts: 1709
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: creating a will

Post by Lee_WSP » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:28 pm

oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:18 pm
Watty wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm
Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.
I think it would be adequate for most people with minor children, too, unless there are complicated circumstances.
If you and the children's other parent die, the funds are immediately distributed to the minor children and held in trust by their guardian. Oh, what, you didn't get to choose their guardian? Don't trust your 18 year old child to not blow it all on whatever? Well, that's why you have a will & trust.

User avatar
CAsage
Posts: 1582
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:25 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by CAsage » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:33 pm

oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:31 pm
if you fail to execute anything properly it won't work. Doesn't matter if you are baking a cake, installing a light fixture, or making a will. That's like saying, "If you do it wrong, it will be wrong."
Amen. Oddly enough, people on this blog universally support managing potentially millions of dollars across decades without a financial planner, but everyone freaks when the word "will" comes up. I feed my family without a nutritionist, go to the gym without a personal trainer, plan my vacations and book travel without a travel agent, and manage my own retirement assets.... Yes, there are clearly cases where a lawyer is needed - complex estates with minor or incapable heirs, merged families, enough assets to worry about estate tax limits, wanting to protect assets from future estate taxes or put an IRA in a trust. But there are LOTS of people with modest or medium sized estates and competent, responsible adult children who would be completely well served by a simple will, TOD for bank accounts, Living trust when appropriate (like in CA, where probate is neither easy or cheap)... The best first step is to get a book like "Plan your estate" by Nolo Press and see what you think YOUR family needs. Then you will be better informed about how much complexity you have and whether you need a lawyer.
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

Barcelonasteve
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:50 am

Re: creating a will

Post by Barcelonasteve » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:49 pm

Lee_WSP wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:28 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:18 pm
Watty wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm
Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.
I think it would be adequate for most people with minor children, too, unless there are complicated circumstances.
If you and the children's other parent die, the funds are immediately distributed to the minor children and held in trust by their guardian. Oh, what, you didn't get to choose their guardian? Don't trust your 18 year old child to not blow it all on whatever? Well, that's why you have a will & trust.
I’ll add that a trust may just generally be a better vehicle for transfer of assets at death than a will. You might avoid probate, which can be lengthy, six months to two years is typical in some places, I hear, and costly (I think some states require a lawyer to file). Part of the package I got from my lawyer included a trust tweaked to carry out my and my wife’s wishes, pour over wills to address anything omitted from the trust (these have to be probated), POAs, healthcare POAs, and living wills. Our estate will be relatively small and not particularly complicated, btw.

Lee_WSP
Posts: 1709
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:15 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: creating a will

Post by Lee_WSP » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:54 pm

Barcelonasteve wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:49 pm
Lee_WSP wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:28 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:18 pm
Watty wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm


It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.
I think it would be adequate for most people with minor children, too, unless there are complicated circumstances.
If you and the children's other parent die, the funds are immediately distributed to the minor children and held in trust by their guardian. Oh, what, you didn't get to choose their guardian? Don't trust your 18 year old child to not blow it all on whatever? Well, that's why you have a will & trust.
I’ll add that a trust may just generally be a better vehicle for transfer of assets at death than a will. You might avoid probate, which can be lengthy, six months to two years is typical in some places, I hear, and costly (I think some states require a lawyer to file). Part of the package I got from my lawyer included a trust tweaked to carry out my and my wife’s wishes, pour over wills to address anything omitted from the trust (these have to be probated), POAs, healthcare POAs, and living wills. Our estate will be relatively small and not particularly complicated, btw.
That's the other benefit touted for a living trust; avoiding probate. But in some states, probate really isn't all that bad, isn't born by you (since you're dead), and may be cheaper than the cost of creating & updating the will.

Now, if your heirs are unable or cannot be trusted to provide for their own competent legal representation, that should be taken into account and pendulum towards trust becomes more attractive. IE, do you want to pay for/take care of this or do you want your heirs to take care of this?

7eight9
Posts: 526
Joined: Fri May 17, 2019 7:11 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by 7eight9 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:59 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.
I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 23133
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: creating a will

Post by dm200 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:33 pm

One big difference is that you can always install another light fixture or bake another cake. However, if your will is determined to be invalid you are dead and there are no second chances.
Yes !!

Or, the will could be very "valid" but may not do what you wanted or expected.

I cannot find it now, but I once attended a presentation by a very experienced estate planning attorney who explained that if we die without a will, then (in effect) the applicable state has one for us. He then went through that "state provided" will and pointed out what would be done and, in many circumstances, why that may not actually what we would want to be done.

Pierre Delecto
Posts: 298
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:45 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by Pierre Delecto » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:35 pm

Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
Skip legal zoom and hire a respected trusts and estates attorney. It’s worth the money.

Katietsu
Posts: 2947
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: creating a will

Post by Katietsu » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:02 pm

This really depends on your circumstances, IMHO. First, how complicated is your situation? How well do you follow instructions? Are there tax considerations? How much research are you willing to do on your own?

I have met with local lawyers. My MIL went to a recommended estate lawyer. I have found serious errors in what I have been told by the former. My MIL’s Will is a disaster if her children predecease her with clauses that contradict each other or are ambiguous at best. I am willing to bet that I could have done a better job with Legal Zoom.

I think the problem with estate lawyers is a bit like financial planners, there is a significant education process needed before you can know if you have a good guy.

oldfatguy
Posts: 548
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by oldfatguy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:06 pm

Lee_WSP wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:28 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:18 pm
Watty wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:09 pm
oldfatguy wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:27 pm
Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
It depends on how complicated your situation is. Virtually everyone on this site will say that you need a lawyer, but check to see if your state has a will template that would suit your needs.
When we did our wills with Legal Zoom it included a conference call with a lawyer so it is a big step above doing it yourself with legal software or preprinted forms. One step in the process was talking with the lawyer about if there was any need to also set up a trust which My impression was that it was equivalent to what a budget local lawyer would have done but it cost a lot less. It seems to be adequate for us since we did not have any kids that are minors.
I think it would be adequate for most people with minor children, too, unless there are complicated circumstances.
If you and the children's other parent die, the funds are immediately distributed to the minor children and held in trust by their guardian. Oh, what, you didn't get to choose their guardian? Don't trust your 18 year old child to not blow it all on whatever? Well, that's why you have a will & trust.
I have a will with a trust for my minor child, which names a guardian and a trustee and secondary guardian and trustee.

newtonc
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 4:56 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by newtonc » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:38 pm

Check the credit unions, mine, the N.C. State Employees Credit Union has a will and trust service where they contract with attorney's and they do a will with a simple trust for $275.00 which includes a Health Care power of attorney.

User avatar
Dale_G
Posts: 3317
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 5:43 pm
Location: Central Florida - on the grown up side of 82

Re: creating a will

Post by Dale_G » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:50 am

I like to keep things simple and have no desire to introduce complexity when it is not required.

In my case, all investment assets have designated beneficiaries. The house and personal property go to adult children equally via a simple will.

Yeah, I paid $500 total for wills for the wife and I, but the wills are not unlike anything I could have downloaded from Nolo or other online peddlers. For sure the forms have to be signed properly, but if your bank has more than two employees, they can handle that. The Living Wills, POA, etc., are effectively included as throwaway fill-in-the blank forms that are otherwise available on-line for any state in the union (except maybe Louisiana).

If you have multiple ex-wives, multiple children with complex marital issues, kids with special needs, illegitimate kids, a financially stressed lawyer son in law, and you want to leave your fortune to your latest girlfriend, then you need professional advice.

Otherwise keep it simple.

Dale
Volatility is my friend

User avatar
JoeRetire
Posts: 4835
Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2018 2:44 pm

Re: creating a will

Post by JoeRetire » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:19 am

Edge215 wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:25 pm
thinking about creating a will. would u recommend sitting down with a lawyer. or would something like legal zoom suffice?
Sit down with a lawyer.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.

Post Reply