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DIY Will ????
Old 01-02-2018, 02:50 PM   #1
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DIY Will ????

During the process of my year end administrative house cleaning I found my will was somewhat outdated, by about twenty years. So this is my thought process, do it yourself, how hard can it be ? The particulars are straightforward and simple; one and only wife, only one married child, a son 38 successful, DIL and two minor grandchildren. All financial accounts are either TOD, POD and have beneficiaries, wife, son and DIL in that order.

The only assets the will would cover are the house, cars (held jointly)and personal effects. I have no intent to try to control anything from the grave and want to make my transition into the next dimension as easy as possible for my heirs.

Georgia has no estate tax and I'm well under the federal requirements so no big deal there. Only downside is the time it takes to probate, anywhere from six months to a year depending on complexity.

AFWIW I've already heard about trying to plan for contingencies such as the wife and son dying and the DIL getting remarried to the tennis pro and spending the proceeds on whatever excluding the grandkids from a piece of the pie and I really don't want to bother with that kind of issue as the chances are slim to none and where do you stop. Also have seen many families destroyed by some ass who died and tried to control his estate from the grave.

So anyone see any downside to a DIY will. In Georgia they don't even require notarizing but it is suggested in order to speed up the probate process. OK, sage sports fans and seers of all good and bad. Tell me what I might be missing. Appreciate any and all comments in advance.
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:58 PM   #2
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No downside. You have a boring estate. No ex-wives, step children, or relatives you want to exclude.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:03 PM   #3
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So anyone see any downside to a DIY will. In Georgia they don't even require notarizing but it is suggested in order to speed up the probate process. OK, sage sports fans and seers of all good and bad. Tell me what I might be missing. Appreciate any and all comments in advance.
I'd check with an estate attorney anyway. State laws vary and sometimes leaving out a single required instruction or even a specific word can negate the will.

For me the stakes are too high to risk trying to do a will myself. For us this is at most a "once every 20 years" kind of thing so the amortized cost is pretty small.

What you could do is get a DIY will, fill in the blanks, and then take it to the attorney and ask "Is there any reason a court would invalidate this will?" Since you've already done all the work the answer should be short, simple, and cheap.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:33 PM   #4
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What you could do is get a DIY will, fill in the blanks, and then take it to the attorney and ask "Is there any reason a court would invalidate this will?" Since you've already done all the work the answer should be short, simple, and cheap.
I was thinking around the same thing. Talked to a guy at work and he mentioned NOLO. Basically, Quicken Will Maker. I need to consider the entire package of documents (will, living trust, advance directive . . .). So I was thinking that I really shouldn't do something that important on my own, but that for under $100, I could buy some software and spend my time preparing the documents. Then, when I go to the attorney, I'd have done most of the thinking and the process would move considerably faster. I'm not dreaming that any attorney would use my documents, but at least my preparation should cut down on the time in the attorney's office and hopefully a few hundred to a grand off the bill.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:34 PM   #5
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Nolo WillMaker... Very Easy.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:16 PM   #6
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Nolo WillMaker... Very Easy.
+1 on the simple software packages. I checked one out of the library.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:30 PM   #7
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After having wills from both parents to go by, my own will that I paid a lawyer to do 15 plus years ago, I decided to write my own second version about 3 years ago. I included all paragraphs and statements in all prior wills and had it notarized.

Now that I have grandchildren, I plan to make my own changes and do the same thing. They were included in the last one but I'm now thinking about leaving them more.

The beauty of this is you can make the changes yourself.
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:50 PM   #8
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Preparing the DIY will was relatively easy and straightforward. The prep was bringing together the documents and defining the physical properties that be included. A time to get organized, and to be sure that all physical and paper assets would be included. DW and I have separate, identical wills wills and have decided that there would be no need for a trust, although the trust framework was the basis for formalizing net worth and making it easier for our four sons to work through whatever might be necessary...selling our properties, cars, cycles, boat, golf cart etc. that have titles. In addition, we outlined our value estimates for jewelry, coin and stamp collections, and other collectibles. All copies of the will have been notarized, registered with the county and secured.

Our sons have all been part of our planning, and are comfortable with what will be necessary when the time comes. When one of us passes away or becomes unable to manage the responsibility, we will turn the will over to a lawyer, for formal review. In the meantime, we (and our sons) feel confident that we've covered the basics to avoid major problems.
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Old 01-02-2018, 06:59 PM   #9
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Nolo WillMaker... Very Easy.
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+1 on the simple software packages. I checked one out of the library.
+2. From my experience, NOLO is clearer and does a better job of explaining things than the estate lawyer specialists I've dealt with for family. And with a straightforward situation, I think the downsides of a thought out DIY are lower than just accepting what some Estate Attorney would do. How do you really know of the attorney is any good? I don't know how to determine that. Recommendations are much like those for an FA - "he/she seems like a nice person."

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Old 01-02-2018, 07:15 PM   #10
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We updated 20 year old wills with he same lawyer for $300. I think it is worth it in Illinois. Safe than sorry. I want to make it as easy as possible on the kids.
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:20 PM   #11
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Both DW and I have been widowed, and both have children. We invested about $400 to have an attorney draw up a complete estate package. POA for finances, POA for health care, and pour over wills.

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Old 01-02-2018, 08:01 PM   #12
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I am an attorney. I did well in my wills and estates course in law school. However, it is not my area of law. So, I would not do my own will. Maybe I could do it. The point is that I think it would be imprudent for me to do so. I don't know what I don't know. it is an entirely unnecessary risk to take.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:06 PM   #13
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Get a living trust to avoid probate. Plus, you can leave your assets in trust to give your kid protection of a continuing trust even with him as the trustee. Talk to an attorney. It's a gift to your kid.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:19 PM   #14
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Nolo WillMaker... Very Easy.
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+1 on the simple software packages. I checked one out of the library.
I just bought WillMaker. It's currently 40% off so it was just over $40. I will still have a lawyer prepare the final documents, but I have already used this enough to see that it will be helpful in the process. My wife and I can sort everything out (at home) and then spend less time in the attorney's office. Can't imagine that I won't save the cost of the program.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:20 PM   #15
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I am an attorney. I did well in my wills and estates course in law school. However, it is not my area of law. So, I would not do my own will. Maybe I could do it. The point is that I think it would be imprudent for me to do so. I don't know what I don't know. it is an entirely unnecessary risk to take.
But the problem becomes, how does the average person find an attorney that they can be sure does know their stuff?

I have been unimpressed with the place my in-laws used, even though they have all the credentials that would make you think they are a top notch place. I found mistakes in their documents, they couldn't explain things that they wrote 20 years ago (same guy). Their software spits out generic boilerplate to dazzle the client.

But at least with something like NOLO, it has some of the benefits of open-source software. There have been many, many eyes on it, it's standardized and there is feedback to improve it. I'm sure that's not perfect, but I personally have far more faith in it than some private practice where I have no real way to verify if they are competent or not.

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Old 01-02-2018, 08:21 PM   #16
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I just bought WillMaker. It's currently 40% off so it was just over $40. I will still have a lawyer prepare the final documents, but I have already used this enough to see that it will be helpful in the process. My wife and I can sort everything out (at home) and then spend less time in the attorney's office. Can't imagine that I won't save the cost of the program.
I think that's a reasonable approach. By DIY, you can learn the basics, and are not entirely dependent on the attorney. A little knowledge is powerful.

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Old 01-02-2018, 08:28 PM   #17
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But the problem becomes, how does the average person find an attorney that they can be sure does know their stuff?

I have been unimpressed with the place my in-laws used, even though they have all the credentials that would make you think they are a top notch place. I found mistakes in their documents, they couldn't explain things that they wrote 20 years ago (same guy). Their software spits out generic boilerplate to dazzle the client.

But at least with something like NOLO, it has some of the benefits of open-source software. There have been many, many eyes on it, it's standardized and there is feedback to improve it. I'm sure that's not perfect, but I personally have far more faith in it than some private practice where I have no real way to verify if they are competent or not.

-ERD50

Open source software with input from laypeople. If that's your criteria check out Wealthcounsel.com for qualified attorneys. Their software is pretty expensive ($500/month) so the lawyers that do use it (many thousands) tend to be higher level/focused estate attorneys. Their documents are very good in my opinion.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:30 PM   #18
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But the problem becomes, how does the average person find an attorney that they can be sure does know their stuff?

I have been unimpressed with the place my in-laws used, even though they have all the credentials that would make you think they are a top notch place. I found mistakes in their documents, they couldn't explain things that they wrote 20 years ago (same guy). Their software spits out generic boilerplate to dazzle the client.

But at least with something like NOLO, it has some of the benefits of open-source software. There have been many, many eyes on it, it's standardized and there is feedback to improve it. I'm sure that's not perfect, but I personally have far more faith in it than some private practice where I have no real way to verify if they are competent or not.

-ERD50
I don't see this as being inherently more difficult than finding any good professional. Sure, it may not be easy but it isn't easy to find a good physician either. Yet, the last time I had surgery I didn't do it myself. I searched around to find someone with the expertise I needed and checked them out including finding patients of the surgeon in question and getting feedback. And I consulted with him and asked a bunch of question. I checked his credentials and made sure he was board certified in the field I was looking for. I checked online for anything I could find out. I checked the state to see if there were any disciplinary complaints. And, so on. Was this foolproof? No, of course not (although he turned out to do a great job). But, did it make me throw up my hands and say that I couldn't possibly select someone. No.

The problem with these software solutions or Nolo are I think two fold. One, people often don't follow directions. They think they are doing it but they are making subtle errors and they don't even know it. Second, you may think your situation is totally simple or easily handled by the software. But, you may be wrong. There may be a better solution that a real attorney would know.

And all of that is assuming that the software or Nolo or whatever is correct (i don't know whether they are or not -- I am only saying that even if they are I would not personally take them as a substitute for an actual attorney knowledgeable in the field. In my state, I would want someone board certified in estate planning and probate).
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:57 PM   #19
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I am an attorney. I did well in my wills and estates course in law school. However, it is not my area of law. So, I would not do my own will. Maybe I could do it. The point is that I think it would be imprudent for me to do so. I don't know what I don't know. it is an entirely unnecessary risk to take.
When I had a lawyer do a will, he used boiler plate software and just filled in the blanks for the names, etc.

I can totally agree if you have young children to leave large sums to, then it becomes complex to release the money in age stages.

I would advise anyone to check with their State on the Will requirements, especially for signing. Last time I looked at IL, the witnesses could not benefit from the will, so if you get asked to sign a will, you are not going to get anything..
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:15 PM   #20
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When I had a lawyer do a will, he used boiler plate software and just filled in the blanks for the names, etc.

I can totally agree if you have young children to leave large sums to, then it becomes complex to release the money in age stages.

I would advise anyone to check with their State on the Will requirements, especially for signing. Last time I looked at IL, the witnesses could not benefit from the will, so if you get asked to sign a will, you are not going to get anything..
If an attorney used software to fill in blanks, etc. it should be because the attorney knew enough to know which software to use, which form to use, etc. That is part of the expertise is knowing which form to use, etc. As far as checking on state will requirements, this can be more complex than people realize. I personally would not undertake it for myself even though I took wills and estates in law school and even though I am probably more well versed in how to look up legal requirements than the average person.

I mean I could understand do it yourself legal stuff for things that are trivial. Ones estate is generally not one of them.
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