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A question regarding Wills
Old 10-01-2012, 08:30 AM   #1
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A question regarding Wills

Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of updating my will & thought I'd reach out (here) for some "expert" advice. (Since I already know what my lawyer thinks)

Background... I'm single with no family of my own & no debts.

My plan... To split my estate (home/assorted investment accounts) between close friends and charities. To this point, I have created a comprehensive spreadsheet illustrating the flow of disbursements along with instructions/accounts/account numbers/contacts etc.

My dilemma... I would like to have the flexibility to change this schedule of disbursements periodically, without the hassle/expense of having the will rewritten. My thought was to keep the latest schedule (dated and notarized) in a safety deposit box along with my will.

My lawyer does not approve & feels that this would open the estate to litigation.

I'm thinking..."By who?"... "My dogs?" I have no family/wife/children to dispute the will & why should I pay my lawyer to update a will whenever one of my close friends either drops out of my life or passes away?

Thoughts anyone?
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:19 AM   #2
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I was a tax accountant a long time ago.... and I thought one of the estates that I dealt with was very interesting...

In her will, the lady said that she had taped the name of the person she wanted to receive her possessions on them. So, if you looked on the back of her painting, furniture etc. etc. there was a piece of tape with the name and her signature.... FWIR, it held up in court... but, I do not think it was challenged...


I think your idea is a good one... but do not think that someone might not challenge it if there is a lot of money involved.... even your friends can bicker about what they get if they feel slighted... and some charites are aggressive....
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:28 AM   #3
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but do not think that someone might not challenge it if there is a lot of money involved.... even your friends can bicker about what they get if they feel slighted... and some charites are aggressive....
+1, it isn't just family members who might squabble over money.

We do have something similar, I guess, in that we have a sheet of specific bequests that is included in the will and can be changed as we see fit, or the item is sold, or the person no longer wants it, etc. But, we have formal trusts set up for the bulk of the estate, with a trustee who is in charge of disbursing funds per our guidelines, but it is ultimately up to that trustee to determine what our wishes are.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:40 AM   #4
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Any 3rd or 4rd grade or other distant relatives that your parents lost track of?

In my jurisdiction, if you do as you wrote, only the will would be considered but not the flow chart unless the whole flow chart is hand written, dated and signed and complies to all formalities of a will.

Someone will have to be the executor of your will + flow chart.
You will want this person to have a job that can be done in compliance with the law. The executor will have to justify each distribution to the legal system.
If he follows some instructions that are not binding, it could end with a lot of legal trouble for the executor.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:37 PM   #5
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Another option is to have your attorney draft the will the first time, and say something like "the split of assets will follow that in the Microsoft Excel document titled Will- Jane Smith - Asset Split rev10-1-2012." Tell your attorney you want a Microsoft Word version of the will.

Then, when you want to change the will, simply bring up the Word document, modify the one filename reference to "Will-Jane Smith - Asset split rev11-12-2016", print new copies and give to anyone who has an old copy along with the new spreadsheet and you're done.

Of course if your attorney is one of the people who would need a new copy, this may create some tension, as he wants your repeat business...but nothing wrong with what you're doing.
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Old 10-01-2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeking Hobbes View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm in the process of updating my will & thought I'd reach out (here) for some "expert" advice. (Since I already know what my lawyer thinks)

Background... I'm single with no family of my own & no debts.

My plan... To split my estate (home/assorted investment accounts) between close friends and charities. To this point, I have created a comprehensive spreadsheet illustrating the flow of disbursements along with instructions/accounts/account numbers/contacts etc.

My dilemma... I would like to have the flexibility to change this schedule of disbursements periodically, without the hassle/expense of having the will rewritten. My thought was to keep the latest schedule (dated and notarized) in a safety deposit box along with my will.

Now for investment accounts you could just designate beneficiaries so the will is not involved, but the home will take a will. The beneficiaries can be changed with at most a letter.

My lawyer does not approve & feels that this would open the estate to litigation.

I'm thinking..."By who?"... "My dogs?" I have no family/wife/children to dispute the will & why should I pay my lawyer to update a will whenever one of my close friends either drops out of my life or passes away?

Thoughts anyone?
You could use a codicil to define the distribution and change that as needed you would need the witnesses but might be able to get a word version you could modify and get resigned.

Also for everything but the house, you could designate beneficiaries on the accounts so that the probate process is not involved.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:36 AM   #7
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You could use a codicil to define the distribution and change that as needed you would need the witnesses but might be able to get a word version you could modify and get resigned.

Also for everything but the house, you could designate beneficiaries on the accounts so that the probate process is not involved.
Thanks, everyone, for your input...

The Lawyer was recommending a codicil for any changes... but I was hoping to avoid using/paying a lawyer for minor changes. I just hoped for a quick, simple, flexible way to make adjustments.

Still, given the remote possibility of disputes, even among friends, I suppose it's wise to investigate that route a little more thoroughly (sigh). Besides, I'd hate to see my executor get into a bind.

I had considered assigning account beneficiaries as a way to divide the estate, but the distribution is a little tricky since the balances among the accounts fluctuate.
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Old 10-03-2012, 08:48 AM   #8
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Maybe a different way of looking at things would be better...


Why would you want to change who is getting what on a regular basis


IOW, if you are trying to keep what people get even, then specify a % of your estate that they get instead of specific accounts or items...
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:07 AM   #9
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Maybe a different way of looking at things would be better...

Why would you want to change who is getting what on a regular basis

IOW, if you are trying to keep what people get even, then specify a % of your estate that they get instead of specific accounts or items...

Thanks for the suggestion...

I've already assigned percentages for each beneficiary and have gone further to suggest how the accounts could be divided to accommodate those percentages.

Still, the recent (and unexpected) death of one friend as well as a falling out with another, combined with fluctuations in account balances left me with a desire for more flexibility with my "final wishes."

I'm guessing that I'll simply have to plan on reviewing/adjusting my will annually; amending via codicil as necessary.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:22 AM   #10
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Vanguard and many other institutions have a "Transfer on Death" option for your assets. The assets covered bypass probate and go directly to your beneficiaries. As far as I can tell, you can change your % and designations whenever you want. If you have a significant amount of your assets here, this might work for you. Assets like your home or where you don't have a TOD could go to people and/or charities you don't expect to ever remove as beneficiaries.
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