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Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 05:47 PM   #1
 
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Question on Wills............

My wife and I have started to put together a will (Yes, I know we're late). We finished the health care directive and gave copies to our doctor.

What we plan to do on the wills is have all of the discussions between ourselves first, get everything down on paper and then file with a lawyer or something?

That is my question to any of you that has been through this process. There seems to me to be a 'missing link' in this process. That is: After you have a will created, signed, notorized, is this recorded any way with the state? - It seems like if you died suddenly with your spouse, how would anyone know that you even have a will? I keep asking this question to people that I know that are 70,75 years old and I get blank stares. Maybe someone will say something like 'Your lawyer should have a copy' - Say what! - I don't want a lawyer to decide to tell anyone if I have a will or not!

It seems like after you create a will there should be a document that gets recorded with the State that gets 'triggered with your death certificate' - No wonder folks drag their heels in this matter. No one seems to know.
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:17 PM   #2
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Re: Question on Wills............

Either you keep the original or trust your lawyer to keep it, maintain a copy at home.

Some trust a relative (seal the envelope).

What we have done is to put the assetts in a revocable living trust. The will only covers the stuff (typically personal) not in the trust. Not a lot to fight over...
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:23 PM   #3
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
Either you keep the original or trust your lawyer to keep it, maintain a copy at home.

Some trust a relative (seal the envelope).

What we have done is to put the assetts in a revocable living trust. The will only covers the stuff (typically personal) not in the trust. Not a lot to fight over...
This seems to be my problem. I can't keep it - I'll be dead, I don't want to trust a lawyer and if I have a copy at home who would know.

I still say that there is a 'missing link' - There should be something filed at the state level that is triggered with a 'death certificate'
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:30 PM   #4
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Re: Question on Wills............

Cut-Throat, mine's filed away at home, and my executor (my sister) knows she's got the job and where the will is. My lawyer has a copy if the house burns down. I'm not sure what happens if the house burns down and I die in the fire.

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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:34 PM   #5
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach
Cut-Throat, mine's filed away at home, and my executor (my sister) knows she's got the job and where the will is. My lawyer has a copy if the house burns down. I'm not sure what happens if the house burns down and I die in the fire.

Coach
You got it! - For a document that everyone says is critical, there seems to be a HUGE missing link.

If you and your sister both get killed together in a car accident, it would seem to be up to the lawyer to notify anyone. If he's crooked what's to stop him from just looting your house?

I think this has happened! - Why is there not some document filed with the State?
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:36 PM   #6
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Re: Question on Wills............

THE GOVERNMENT…one has to be responsible for ones self even after death. Keep the government out of our private lives. Trust the lawyers and keep a copy with your other important papers. Stop worrying and start living even if it does get lost you will not have worry. Relax. That is your missing link. Relax.

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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:40 PM   #7
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Re: Question on Wills............

When DH and I did ours earlier this year, we left a copy with the attorney, have a copy at home, and sent a copy to our executor (who lives in another state).

Part of the fee we paid the attorney covers things like making sure the appropriate authorities and people are notified in the event of our joint deaths.

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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 06:47 PM   #8
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by runnerr
THE GOVERNMENT…one has to be responsible for ones self even after death. Keep the government out of our private lives. Trust the lawyers and keep a copy with your other important papers. Stop worrying and start living even if it does get lost you will not have worry. Relax. That is your missing link. Relax.

Runnerr
Well I'm glad you are in favor of keeping the Government out of our lives. That is why I am against the 'Patriot Act' and favor Pro-Choice on abortion matters. But I'm sure you are also in favor of having an FDIC insured Savings Account, instead of just trusting the 'Bank'.

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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 07:37 PM   #9
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Re: Question on Wills............

CT:

You need an Executor - someone you trust to handle the details of your estate. Could be a friend, a lawyer, whatever. Give that person a copy of the will and living trusts, if any.
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 07:55 PM   #10
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by donheff
CT:

You need an Executor - someone you trust to handle the details of your estate. Could be a friend, a lawyer, whatever. Give that person a copy of the will and living trusts, if any.
This I know. The problem that I have is: - There does not seem to be any document filed naming that Executor. In other words if the executor is a friend and he happens to get killed in the car accident with you and your spouse who would know? Then what?

Still seems to me to be a missing link. Property ownership is filed with the state. Deeds etc. - But when it comes to a will - It seems you have 'trust' someone to come forward. With a document that is always listed as 'mandatory this seems a backward to me.

I also believe that this is why people tend to put off these documents. If all you needed was a 'friend' to get you into this country instead of a Passport, it would also be a 'simple' matter. Why there is not a similar procedure for having a Will on 'File' is a Total Mystery to me.

Maybe Martha would like to weigh in on this. She confirmed all my doubts about the Estate Tax for the state of Minnesota - That really no one could figure out what you owe?
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 08:15 PM   #11
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
For a document that everyone says is critical, there seems to be a HUGE missing link.

If you and your sister both get killed together in a car accident, it would seem to be up to the lawyer to notify anyone. If he's crooked what's to stop him from just looting your house?

I think this has happened! - Why is there not some document filed with the State?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
There does not seem to be any document filed naming that Executor. In other words if the executor is a friend and he happens to get killed in the car accident with you and your spouse who would know? Then what?

Still seems to me to be a missing link. Property ownership is filed with the state. Deeds etc. - But when it comes to a will - It seems you have 'trust' someone to come forward. With a document that is always listed as 'mandatory this seems a backward to me.

I also believe that this is why people tend to put off these documents. If all you needed was a 'friend' to get you into this country instead of a Passport, it would also be a 'simple' matter. Why there is not a similar procedure for having a Will on 'File' is a Total Mystery to me.

Maybe Martha would like to weigh in on this. She confirmed all my doubts about the Estate Tax for the state of Minnesota - That really no one could figure out what you owe?
C-T, As one well-known poster on the forum often says, "It's all about balance."

Don't worry if no one knows you have a will when you die. The gummit will take care of distributing your ass...ets, no problem.

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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 08:26 PM   #12
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
This I know. The problem that I have is: - There does not seem to be any document filed naming that Executor. In other words if the executor is a friend and he happens to get killed in the car accident with you and your spouse who would know? Then what?
Still seems to me to be a missing link. Property ownership is filed with the state. Deeds etc. - But when it comes to a will - It seems you have 'trust' someone to come forward. With a document that is always listed as 'mandatory this seems a backward to me.*
I also believe that this is why people tend to put off these documents. If all you needed was a 'friend' to get you into this country instead of a Passport, it would also be a 'simple' matter. Why there is not a similar procedure for having a Will on 'File' is a Total Mystery to me.
Maybe Martha would like to weigh in on this. She confirmed all my doubts about the Estate Tax for the state of Minnesota - That really no one could figure out what you owe?
We have all the paperwork filed in a number of places-- the "Emergency" folder in the desk drawer, with spouse's parents, and with my BIL the CPA (our kid's guardian).* We also keep a copy in our safe deposit box.

I guess you have to spread the copies around enough for someone to survive the family roller-coaster disaster at DisneyWorld. And then you have to remember to do the same with the codicils or new wills every freakin' time, or at least give a distribution list to Anna Nicole Smith's granddaughter when she has your will updated to reflect your new marriage to her...

As for recording the paperwork with the local govt-- decades ago veterans were urged to have their discharge papers recorded with the local registry so that they'd always be able to get a certified copy, even if their house burned to the ground and their safe deposit boxes were looted.*

So as soon as their Social Security numbers became public record, identity thieves started mining the DD-214s and running amok.

Maybe you could store the paperwork with a document company like Iron Mountain, but I guess they'd have to keep checking the obituary pages or the death certificate filings...

One other piece of advice-- although I wouldn't use Quicken's Willmaker without running the result through a lawyer, it's a great way to organize your thoughts and make a list of questions.* Once you work through the process in the software you can move a lot more quickly in the lawyer's office and save everyone the education time (and fees).
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 08:33 PM   #13
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
As for recording the paperwork with the local govt-- decades ago veterans were urged to have their discharge papers recorded with the local registry so that they'd always be able to get a certified copy, even if their house burned to the ground and their safe deposit boxes were looted.
I actually did this when I got out!

As far as the education process about the will - that is what I'm attempting to do now.
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 08:34 PM   #14
 
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
C-T, As one well-known poster on the forum often says, "It's all about balance."

Don't worry if no one knows you have a will when you die. The gummit will take care of distributing your ass...ets, no problem.

I am starting to understand why a lot of people don't have wills.
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 08:37 PM   #15
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I am starting to understand why a lot of people don't have wills.
Listen, just post here after you die, and we'll take care of the rest...
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 09:32 PM   #16
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Re: Question on Wills............

Once a will has been created, at least two witnessed and notarized copies need to be prepared. You can keep one copy in your safe and one in safe deposit box or with your attorney. Then create a letter of instruction and distribute it widely. The letter should be simple, but very specific. It should not repeat instructions included in your will or other legal documents, but simply instruct others of where copies of those documents are located.

Example:

Instructions in the Event of Our Deaths or Incapacitation
Updated:_____________________

Our social security numbers are: you:__________ and spouse:__________

We have the following checking accounts and savings accounts:
 Bank_________ Account type__________Account #__________
 Bank_________ Account type__________Account #__________

We have the following insurance policies:
 Health Insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium
 Long-term-care insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium
 Life insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium
 Home insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium
 Auto insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium
 Other insurance: Company, policy #, agent, premium

The location of critical documents:
 Our wills (location and attorney information, who has copies)
 Other legal documents such as POAs (location, who has copies)
 Life insurance policy (location)
 Long-term-care policy (location)
 Home insurance (location)
 Auto insurance (location)
 Auto title/deed/registration (location)
 Pension information (location)
 Financial account information (software and paper record locations)
 Abstract/Deed for house (location)
 Income tax records (software and paper record locations)

Make sure that the following bills are paid:
 Medical insurance premium (payment details, date due, amount due, accounts where automatic payments are taken from, etc.)
 Property taxes(dates of tax bills)
 Home insurance (dates of policy renewal)
 Other insurance, or recurring expenses that must be maintained
 Other debts (mortgage, car loans, etc) (dates of bills, institution details)
 Regular expenses

We have a safe deposit box: key location, number, bank location, . . .
We have a safe in the house: location, combination, . . .
We have a post office box for some mail delivery: POBox #, information
We have a storage locker: location, number, key location, . . .
We have additional assets we keep at: details

We have the following investment & retirement accounts:
 Company/Broker______ Account type______Account # ________ Approximate Total_____
 Company/Broker______ Account type______Account #________ Approximate Total_____

Information about other assets
 House (owned free and clear or mortgage information)
Autos (owned or car loan)
 Credit Cards: number________ bank or institution______

The following people/institutions owe us money
List with details

We have made the following arrangements or have the following wishes in case of our deaths
 Cemetery plots: location & details
 Funeral arrangements: preferences, spending desires, . . .

If possible, we would like you to use the assets you inherit to pay for the following items as your first priority:
 Pay for children’s college (list children still in college and any directions)
 Charity contributions (list desired charity and amount or percentage that should be donated)
 Other spending desires

You should contact the following friends and family:
List friends, relatives and contact information
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 10:29 PM   #17
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Re: Question on Wills............

Thanks for sharing this with us sgee...etc. Seems like a great idea to have these instructions in the hands of several relatives that you trust. When my father passed away five years ago it was a real challenge getting all this information together. It would have been a lot worse if we hadn't worked with him a couple of years previous to his death to consolidate his myriad small bank and brokerage accounts. Months after he died I came across a $1500 life insurance policy that his father had taken out on him shortly after his infant brother had died of scarlet fever. I guess the doctor and burial bills had been quite a drain on the family finances. Surprisingly the policy was still in effect and the insurance company settled up with the estate!
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 10:59 PM   #18
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Re: Question on Wills............

Sgeeeee
Great list!* Might I add, the code numbers to access phone, laptop, email voicemail, house, garage etc.* All the things we access daily using a code we've memorized that can contain vital information?
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-28-2006, 11:14 PM   #19
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Re: Question on Wills............

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I am starting to understand why a lot of people don't have wills.
I know how you feel. I wanted to have most of my will and estate plan all figured out before I went to a lawyer to complete the process. A lot of people can get by with simple wills, but when you start complicating things with kids, and trying to take full advantage of tax breaks that come with trusts, etc., it can get real complicated. Trying to understand all of the different aspects of estate planning and trusts had me preferring to die intestate rather than deal with it myself.

Ultimately I turned my research efforts toward finding a good estate attorney and made an appointment for a consultation. She spent more than two hours educating me and answering all of my questions. I learned what I needed and why, and I also learned why I didn't need all of the things that I had spent so much time trying to understand.

Going to see the attorney was one of the smarter things I have done recently.
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Re: Question on Wills............
Old 08-29-2006, 12:06 AM   #20
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Re: Question on Wills............

Cut throat....

The problem is that whatever you file is public records... so you can not have your will 'secret' until you die... and then what happens if you sign a new one, but forget to get it filed

There is NO way to plan for every possible problem that could occur... but 99.9% of the time there is no problem with a will at a lawyer, at home in a fireresistent box, in a safety deposit box and with the executor.... if something happened to all of them... well, you are dead and who cares... there is more problems than just you dying..

My mother's will is in her safety deposit box, one at her house, one at my house and one with my brother in Dallas.. the lawyer has one, but we don't deal with him at all, so I doubt he would do anything if she died...
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