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Best (Cheapest?) Way to Make a Will?
Old 02-11-2012, 05:21 AM   #1
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Best (Cheapest?) Way to Make a Will?

I need to make a will--have put it off too long. It will be quite simple, leaving my assets to two family members and a charity. I really don't want to spend $$ drawing it up. What's the best way to make a legal will (with power of attorney and health care directive, etc.) in a cost effective manner? I live in MN. Thanks.
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Old 02-11-2012, 06:31 AM   #2
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When drafting legal documents best and cheapest are not always found together. You can use some online services, such as Legal Zoom or Nolo, and you can use a SW program, such as Quicken Willmaker. One thing you can do is check the cost of those options, then do a search for Attorneys that prepare wills in your county, contact them and look for one with experience in preparing wills and charges a competitive price. I would expect to pay a couple of hundres dollars and would choose a local Attorney.
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Old 02-11-2012, 06:57 AM   #3
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I'm in MichaeB's camp on this one. Having a will done is one of those things that (hopefully) one only has done once, not a recurring expense, so pay the pro to make sure it's done right.

Seemingly small errors in punctuation or phrasing can change the entire meaning from what one intended.
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Old 02-11-2012, 07:13 AM   #4
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I got a nolo book with cd at the library and loaded it on my computer. It was very thorough and well thought out. I started to do it myself, but like the other people here, I decided to go with a lawyer, for the price and expertise it was reasonable to make sure it was done properly.
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Old 02-11-2012, 07:36 AM   #5
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I wouldn't rely on a DIY will, it's worth a couple hundred bucks to have an attorney do it. The cost for a simple will and advanced directive where I am ranges from $150 to $600 - money well spent. Decide who gets what, and then find a local attorney who charges a flat rate and does wills routinely.

Cost of a Will - Get Prices and Information - CostHelper.com
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:44 AM   #6
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I wouldn't rely on a DIY will, it's worth a couple hundred bucks to have an attorney do it.
Agreed.

Although our personal situation is currently complicated, our first will drawn up forty years ago was done by/at an attorney for under $100 (yes, that's what it cost at the time).

Sure, most of the content was "boilerplate", but you can get tripped up on items related to your state of residence (no, not mental state ) and any current laws that may not be reflected with any DIY documents.
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:47 AM   #7
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I'm in MichaeB's camp on this one. Having a will done is one of those things that (hopefully) one only has done once, not a recurring expense, so pay the pro to make sure it's done right.

Seemingly small errors in punctuation or phrasing can change the entire meaning from what one intended.
Right. While the will might be done more than once it is only used once. That is when it has to be right -- not easy to change after it is used.
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Marita40 View Post
I need to make a will--have put it off too long. It will be quite simple, leaving my assets to two family members and a charity. I really don't want to spend $$ drawing it up. What's the best way to make a legal will (with power of attorney and health care directive, etc.) in a cost effective manner? I live in MN. Thanks.
I too live in MN, and my dad was an attorney practicing in this area. Getting it done if truly simple should not cost more than $500 for the documents you speak of.

Speak to several attorneys to get an assessment (this is free) and choose one from there. Good learning opportunity as well.

Also, if you own a home, MN now has a form (which few seem to know about) you can complete and get notarized which would allow the home to by-pass probate. That is available at the county level. Can't remember the name of it, but can get that for you if needed.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:42 AM   #9
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I agree with the notion of having a lawyer do the will. In Tx if the will is done right the executors job is far easier: One gets appointed, files and inventory, and the job is done as far as the court is concerned. No approval needed to pay bills etc. from the court.
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:53 AM   #10
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With a previous employer, I took advantage of a prepaid legal service. It covered all the basic will, power of attorney, etc.

If not available via your current employer, I believe you can sign up for a reasonable monthly fee. It could be worth it, just compare flat fee vs. 1 year of monthly fees.

While you can DIY, it depends how basic of distribution of your assets in the future.
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:57 AM   #11
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Also, if you own a home, MN now has a form (which few seem to know about) you can complete and get notarized which would allow the home to by-pass probate. That is available at the county level. Can't remember the name of it, but can get that for you if needed.
In Ohio you can file a Transfer On Death affidavit. I just did this on my Dad's property after Mom died and he became the sole owner. There were county filing fees but no lawyer involved.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:48 PM   #12
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I got a nolo book with cd at the library and loaded it on my computer. It was very thorough and well thought out. I started to do it myself, but like the other people here, I decided to go with a lawyer, for the price and expertise it was reasonable to make sure it was done properly.
I think you should do both this self-prep approach and follow it up by giving it to a lawyer to turn into a "real" will.

The advantage of the Nolo and other self-prep products is that you walk into the lawyer's office with something for them to review, not something for them to start from scratch. You're more educated, too, so you're unlikely to need more of the lawyer's time for researching & answering questions. And if the lawyer gives you the attitude of "Oh my, this simply will not do" for something that's relatively simple & straightforward, then you probably have a good indication that you need a new lawyer.

My father has a will (my brother and I are the beneficiaries) but I'm still making sure that his accounts are titled "TOD" and "POD" so that the paperwork is simpler. If we do this right then (hopefully in a long number of years) we'll be able to file an affidavit with the probate court and not spend any more money on lawyers.
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:50 PM   #13
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WE used Legal Zoom. Could do it all online and get it reviewed by legal eyes without having to go into an office etc.

That said, what we did was very simplistic. We knew we had to get something on paper to cover ourselves in case the worst did happen. We know that down the track we are going to have to do something a bit more complicated at which time we will take individual legal advice.
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