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Do we need a will?
Old 07-17-2019, 05:47 PM   #1
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Do we need a will?

If all real estate, vehicles, 401k and bank accounts have ‘transfer on death’ beneficiaries, do we need anything else for financial assets? Thanks!
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:05 PM   #2
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Yes. Else who decides what happens to your beanie baby collection? Furniture? Heirlooms?

Really, it does just resolve a lot of issues that are going to be a PITA for someone else to resolve after your passing.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:13 PM   #3
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IMO, no. Though it doesn't hurt to have one to catch anything that might slip through the cracks.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:16 PM   #4
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Will someone be needed to file a final tax return for you?
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:20 PM   #5
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Yes. For all other assets, for tax filing purposes, etc.. Even if there's nothing to transfer, it makes your intent crystal clear.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:54 PM   #6
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At best, nothing will be covered by the will, and if you use a $$$ estate lawyer, you might pay $2-3K, which you might consider "wasted". At worst, you risk a LOT more than $2-3K being disposed of against your wishes by not having a will. My parents both had one, and neither had a net worth anywhere near seven figures, my mom's was in the low six figures, and they both had all accounts POD/TOD that they could designate as such.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:14 PM   #7
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Can I use a form and just have it notarized?
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:17 PM   #8
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If all real estate, vehicles, 401k and bank accounts have ‘transfer on death’ beneficiaries, do we need anything else for financial assets? Thanks!
Nobody needs a will. The state will happily make decisions for you. Usually it makes things easier on your heirs. But that's up to you.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:18 PM   #9
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Can I use a form and just have it notarized?
Yes you can. It will be easier to challenge though.

Spend a few dollars and have a real will created.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:20 PM   #10
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Can I use a form and just have it notarized?

Yes, but...you're better off having it customized to your state by a professional. But if you find a site like Nolo and get a free form that is supposedly customized to your state, you're getting more than what you paid for it, I guess? I just feel like for the amount of money that we expect will be in our estate, it's worth a little (0.1-1%) to make sure it's handled the way we want it to be handled.
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Do we need a will?
Old 07-17-2019, 07:31 PM   #11
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Do we need a will?

You don’t know what assets you may have in your estate. Say, for example, you are both killed by a drunken surgeon with a huge umbrella policy and your estate obtains a settlement for the full face value of the policy. Where does this go without a will and who manages it? You’re right, it passes in intestacy according to the laws of your estate and it is managed by an administrator appointed by the court. Do you really want this? Get a will!
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:14 PM   #12
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Worse comes to worse, go to Nolo's Willmaker and download their will program. They also have incredible information on probate, wills, trusts, etc. that can put the whole probate program in perspective.

Every state is slightly different. Many don't allow for transfer on death of real estate except between spouses and the last spouse to die requires the will to be probated because of real estate. Some require two witnesses and a notary public to watch the signors.

Anyway it goes, wills can be very complicated, and not every attorney is really good at writing and executing them. After all, you want your will to follow your wishes.
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:22 PM   #13
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everybody should have a will.
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:58 AM   #14
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everybody should have a will.
and they should get it on their 18th birthday. Then review and update as needed annually.
Along with Healthcare Power of Atty
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Old 07-18-2019, 07:02 AM   #15
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Wills can also be very simple. I did my first will myself, and got two witnesses to sign in the presence of a notary. I had it redone a few years back when I had some legal service available through work such that it was free. It wasn't much different. Earlier this year I went to a new attorney and had a POA done. She said it wasn't necessary to redo that will.

If your case is simple, just find the forms for your state from NOLO or whatever and have them properly witnessed and notarized. It'll save a hassle for your heir(s) on your possessions and anything else you didn't get under TOD.

You might think about the need for a POA though. If/when you do that it's probably not much more to have the attorney draw up a simple will too.
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Old 07-18-2019, 08:45 AM   #16
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Texas allows TOD for real estate and motor vehicles. And of course, all of our financial accounts are carefully set up with beneficiaries and TOD/POD designations. Also, in Texas, household goods and personal effects can be informally divided by surviving family if that's the only thing left in the estate. So in effect, nothing would go through probate and no will would be required.

But we both still have wills, just in case something changes in the future. It also specifies which of the kids we want to receive certain collectible items of sentimental value. We did the wills on LegalZoom, including a living will and durable POA, which are probably more important than the will itself, given this set-up. All the documents were properly witnessed and notarized.

Our current situation is straightforward... two adult children, no prior marriages, no business assets, no complicated scenarios or relationships, no expensive art collections, and unlikely to exceed estate tax threshold. So a DIY approach using beneficiary designations and online documents seems appropriate for us. I won't hesitate to seek professional assistance in the future if, for example, we move to a state with no TOD for real estate or if other things get complicated in some way.
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Old 07-18-2019, 09:48 AM   #17
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For POA, my attorney made a good point in that a lot of banks, hospitals, etc, seem to dispute them. She spends a lot of time calling them and explaining that yes, it is a legal document, and yes, they do have to comply with it. If you've done your own, you don't have that backing and they may be more reluctant to comply.
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Old 07-18-2019, 09:52 AM   #18
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While I strongly encourage getting a will, it's possible it won't be needed. For my dad's estate everything was TOD, POD (including the house). There was never any need to go through probate. Household items were just split between my brother and me. We've got a similar set up with our own assets, but have a will - just in case.
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Old 07-18-2019, 09:59 AM   #19
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While I strongly encourage getting a will, it's possible it won't be needed. For my dad's estate everything was TOD, POD (including the house). There was never any need to go through probate. Household items were just split between my brother and me. We've got a similar set up with our own assets, but have a will - just in case.
Yes, but that depends on the state and the estate. I was lucky, my dad's state did not allow TOD/POD for real estate or vehicles, but he had no real estate and the state had a household exemption that did not exceed the value of his only car, or his checking account. I appreciated that, and I hope to keep my estate simple, although we do have revocable living trusts because right now we also cannot TOD/POD RE or vehicles, and we have both.

Also, if you or your brother had any irreconcilable dispute over the items, I'm guessing either of you could have forced all non TOD/POD parts of the estate to be liquidated in probate (all household items) and then the proceeds split. Sure, it was better for both of you this way, but unfortunately family disputes can transcend logic and practicality.
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Old 07-18-2019, 10:14 AM   #20
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Can I use a form and just have it notarized?
It depends on your State. Some States require that a will be witnessed as well. (Another reason to spend a few $$ and have an atty do it.)
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