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View Poll Results: Did you write your own will or living trust?
Yes, my situation was fairly basic 24 24.00%
Yes, there were some complexities but I was confident I could do it 7 7.00%
No, basic situation, but hired a lawyer to make sure it was done right 28 28.00%
No, I really need a lawyer for my situation 23 23.00%
No, but it looks so simple I don't know why I didn't do it myself 3 3.00%
I have no legal estate plan 12 12.00%
other (explain) 3 3.00%
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Did you do your own will?
Old 12-08-2009, 01:43 PM   #1
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Did you do your own will?

How many of you used or some other will software or book to do your own will? I included options to indicate whether you feel your situation is complex, whatever that means to you.

I should update my will now that I'm in a new state and my daughter is no longer a minor, and I'm wondering how many people roll their own.

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Old 12-08-2009, 02:24 PM   #2
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I'm a lawyer and I had an estate planner do my will. Complications included a special needs trust. I did the POAs and healthcare directives myself. I also did my own codicil to make a minor change, but I ran it past the estate planner.


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Old 12-08-2009, 02:25 PM   #3
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I have a trust, so had an attorney do all of it.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:30 PM   #4
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Trust here also so I had my lawyer do it. He is a CPA and a JD.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:34 PM   #5
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I've had Prepaid Legal for about 6 years. Costs about $160/year. They do my wife's and my will as part of their service...updates annually. Bring it to a local lawyer for notarizing and "Durable Powers of Attorney" (let's our son pay the bills if we're is important here), "health care surrogate" (allows medical treatment decision making by spouse and son), living will (pull the plug if I can't reach it). Lawyer cost had been nominal....$100.00 +/-....our documents are in his computer and he can update with little or no effort. Our will is not complex except in the way we want our stuff divied up and who gets what. Works for us and the "Sleep Factor" is high.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:39 PM   #6
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Military lawyer...wills strongly encouraged for those of us serving.
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Old 12-08-2009, 02:41 PM   #7
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I had a lawyer do mine in fact I need to update it soon . We have a local lawyer who only does wills & trusts and she is very affordable .
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:06 PM   #8
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I had done my previous will using software (I think it was called WillMaker or something like that). It was easy, but my situation is very straight-forward.

Recently I had the opportunity to have my will and associated healthcare directives, etc. set up by an attorney at the same time as my SO was doing his. It didn't cost us any more to do mine, so I went ahead and had all the documents done by an attorney. I don't know how well the self-created will would have held up, so I do feel a little better with the documents the attorney drew up.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:18 PM   #9
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we previously had a discussion on wills and i cant stress enough to you to have it done right ,its not all that simple.

I forget which topic it is where we discussed the will kits but you really do need to be careful as they are okay for getting an idea but wills depending on the state can be highly problematic if even a word is omitted.

We had refinanced an inherited house.The title company looked at the deed and said they had to stop the closing.WHY?
Because it said i leave my house and all my possessions to my child beth.Well it didnt say only child beth.Bingo it cost me the lawyers fee for myself,the co-op attorny ,the bank lawyer,the title company.What grief that one word ommission cost me.We had to get affidivates from relatives stating there were no other kids.

We had a lot more issues with wills in my 2nd marriage that i could write a book about.Simple wording ommissions,failing to deal with pre-deceasing issues ,the list goes on and on.My wife and i spent 2200.00 doing our new simple wills and poa and health proxy to make sure it was done right

One thing i learned about wills i will pass on and save your heirs lots of grief. ,USE A GOOD ESTATE ATTORNEY.Using will kits and attorneys who are general practioners but not estate attorneys to save money can work fine but remember this."NOTHING IS A PROBLEM UNTIL ITS A PROBLEM".

As an example here in new york you can do a will kit and execute it yourself,no problem.But heres the rub executing your will.As proper protocal there is a bunch of questions that an attorney will ask in front of the witnesses such as do you know what the will is? are you of sound mind,,are you doing this with careful thought?

In the event the will is challenged by an unhappy heir and these questions were not asked it could be claimed by the court the will isnt valid.Had i done the kit i would have never known to do this.The witnesses that you choose become very critical as well as their relationship to the deceased.Using someone mentioned in the will,using someone who later could be claimed they were impartial,using someone who is old and may not be around when your will ends up in court.The list goes on and on.

This is a 2nd marriage for me and my wifes ex father inlaw drew up a trust where he specifically said he wasnt leaving anything to some estranged grand children.Well my wifes ex-husband died first and the trust had no provisions for pre-deceasing and so the court looked to my wifes ex-husbands will .Bottom line it was a mess.A 2 year court battle, 100,000 in legal fees and we had to buy out the estranged children from a family business for 400,000 when they were specifically written out of the will.All because the attorney who did the origonal paperwork was a general practioner and not an estate lawyer who would have had provisions for pre-deceasing just as standard fare but since the basically canned form didnt have it we had a very important but simple provision missing..I cant stress enough how important it is in 2nd marriages especially ,see a good estate attorney and dont attempt this on your own with a canned kit.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:35 PM   #10
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Paid an attorney last year even tho I will be leaving Illinois, but you never know when your passing will occur. Did the entire smear of 3-4 documents. Hated to spend the money to do this when I know this isn't going to be my permanent home, but I do have peace of mind the past year.
When I move out of State and buy, doing a Will will be one of my first duties I guess.
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:47 PM   #11
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Used a lawyer, simple will but cheap insurance.

DF was a lawyer, he paid someone to write his. I follow examples.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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I agree with those who say that you should use a properly qualified trusts & estates lawyer. If an issue arises among your heirs after you are gone, it will be worth the money you paid to deal with it.

That said, I have no will. I do not own anything of my own. Everything is owned jointly with the young wife, except my 401k, IRA and life insurance, where she is already the designated beneficiary of each. We never had any children. What she eventually does with the money after I'm gone does not concern me. If she should predecease me, I might reconsider, but I probably wouldn't bother because I really don't care who gets my stuff if it's not her.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:12 PM   #13
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We used the family's long time friend and attorney for my Mom's will, POA, health care directives and such. I used one of NOLO's book/CD combos to do my own, and had a friend, who is a notary, notarize it for me.

Both my Mom's, whose was attorney prepared, and mine, that I did myself, look nearly identical except for the 'stuff' and actual beneficiaries. The 'legalese' is basically the same in both of ours.

Both of our situations are very much the same, and both are very simple estates....a single residence, cars, and personal affects (jewelry, household items, tools, etc.). ALL accounts have designated beneficiaries listed on them (which are updated and current), as well as the percentage of the accounts that each beneficiary is to receive.
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:41 PM   #14
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I used a free form appropriate for me from ILRG Legal Forms Archive - 2,000+ Free Legal Forms and Documents

Nothing complex about my situation and so I don't see why I would need an attorney to craft any special words that are not already on the standard form.

mathjak107 lists some interesting examples. Looking at the form I used from above site however I see that
- I listed all the information about the beneficiary(ies), so the word "only" should not apply there - it's very explicit and clear who I am leaving things to. I can't imagine how saying "only" the person who has following name/address/SSN/etc improves the text provided on the forms
- it already includes predeceased case

I used random witnesses working at a bank where I notarized the form. I don't expect any challenges to the will, so I guess that's in part why I may not have taken as much precautions as necessary.. ? I would not expect that they would need to show up in court.
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:16 AM   #15
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As a youngster (coming up on 40), I don't expect to kick the bucket for a long time, so I used the software that nolo sold more than a decade ago to do my will. Just today I came across it and decided to cross out the old addresses and phone numbers of various beneficiaries and write in the new info, with my initials and date next to those changes. I'm sure this is not ideal, but I figure it's much better than nothing and I'm going to be dead anyway if it's an issue.

I remember that when my grandmother died she had listed her kids as beneficiaries on all the accounts, so way before the will came into play the money was all divied up. I keep the beneficiaries updated on my vanguard account with most of my money, and I think that's more important than paying some lawyer to double check the predeceasement provisions in my boilerplate will.
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:29 AM   #16
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not everything can be beneficiaried... thats the easy stuff.... its the stuff that cant be that presents issues sometimes ....

after being involved in not just 1 but 2 totaly different snafus in will and trust construction we decided not to attempt this alone. my first choice was to do the stuff myself with a kit and just pay an attorney to review it.

i couldnt get not 1 attorney to go for this idea as each one has modified wording to their liking in the documents they use.

of course using an attorney is no guarantee that everything is perfect either. this being a second marriage required alot more caution and expertise then i knew i had in this area. afterall the last 2 wills and trusts looked fine to me too, well that is until they werent ,like when they were to be executed or used as in the case of the refinancing of the house..

the funny part our real estate attorney/general practioner read the will prior to the closing and didnt pick up on any flawed wording or see an issue, the estate attorney we eventually used for our will saw the flaw immeadiately. his standard paperwork included those missing words right out of the box.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:13 AM   #17
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We paid an attorney to do it - about $200 six years ago to update it.

The expense didn't bother me because it's the second time I've paid to have a will done. "One-time" expenses don't mean much to me, it's the ongoing things that eat money.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:27 AM   #18
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hired a lawyer who completed my will, medical advanced directives, and most importantly established a revocable trust (avoid probate) - all for $400
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:30 AM   #19
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Illinois I read has some goofy law that makes it not wise to do your own Will with a NOLO or similar form. Supposedly only State in the Union like that, but I would definitely check my States laws carefully..very carefully..before I took that chance.
Heck, I'd hire a lawyer and be done with it. I, too, consider it cheap insurance so the State can't grab the money.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:03 AM   #20
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Like Martha, we need an SNT along with ensuring support services for our disabled son after we're gone.

That included professional services for placing our existng RE into indivudial revokable trusts, liquidation of our estate, transfer of proceeds from our revokable trusts, funding of the SNT, management of the funds till our son passes, and finial disposition to our named charities (we have no family members who wish to get involved).

That along with the respective documents for not only my DW/me but also related to our son in the area of living wills, durable POW's, naming of a trust protector (for our son) after we're gone.

We had our respecive orignial wills drawn up over 25 years ago, when our needs were simple and our son was not yet considered "disabled" (but that's another story, not to be discussed here).

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