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What's reasonable for will and associated?
Old 03-14-2013, 01:39 PM   #1
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What's reasonable for will and associated?

About to update our docs and wondered how these costs look to others. More than we paid last time (of course). Thanks.

Our situation could not be simpler. No kids, no debts or other obligations, no business or unusual property - just split assets among select family and charities. It's literally hat simple.

We will certainly have these docs completed:
  • Simple wills, $300 each (DW & I).
  • Advanced directives (for all listed below), $325 each.
    Durable Power of Attorney
    Designation of Health Care Representative
    Health Care Power of Attorney
    Living Will
    HIPAA Authorization
  • So $1250 total
Still on the fence about having:
  • Joint Revocable Trust and separate Pour Over Wills, $1500-$2000.
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Old 03-14-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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We paid $1200 total for all of the above. We didn't have a will - since we went the trust route. (This was before the estate tax went to infinity, then settled at very high.)

Our attorney was not the lowest price - but was highly recommended.
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:05 PM   #3
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I'm also wondering about legalzoom.com or one of the online resources, again since our situation is so straightforward, it ought to be almost as simple as filling in the blanks (in my engineer brain at least).
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:29 PM   #4
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I'm also wondering about legalzoom.com or one of the online resources, again since our situation is so straightforward, it ought to be almost as simple as filling in the blanks (in my engineer brain at least).
I think Clark Howard was saying that if you run the DIY documents yourself, some lawyers will take on the work to just review them. That would seem to be the least expensive route, but maybe not optimal for getting exactly what you want (boilerplate might not fit your situation exactly).
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:33 PM   #5
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I think Clark Howard was saying that if you run the DIY documents yourself, some lawyers will take on the work to just review them. That would seem to be the least expensive route, but maybe not optimal for getting exactly what you want (boilerplate might not fit your situation exactly).
To give an example of where legalzoom may not work right Texas alone has the independent executor statute. With that the executor gets appointed, and only need file an inventory with the court, no need to run to the court for detailed approval. Now one can check if the legal zoom covers that. Other states likley have similar quirks in their laws, for example some states still have inheritance taxes. All of this a local lawyer should know.
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Old 03-14-2013, 02:39 PM   #6
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We're using one of the software programs for our will (Willmaker?). Ours will be a simple division, first to spouse, then equally to the kids. It might not stand up to a legal challenge, but we don't expect the kids to challenge it. The plan calls for the largest chunk of assets to be our retirement accounts and those have designated beneficiaries. We'll also use the program for medical directives and burial instructions. I'll have to look at the other forms to see if we need any.
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Old 03-14-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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Prices look reasonable, and have fallen substantially since online products were introduced. An option discussed here a few years ago - take the online form, either Nolo or LegalZoom, prepare a draft (for free), bring it along when you hire the attorney and ask what they do that is different and of value.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:09 PM   #8
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We built our wills, directives, power of attorney, and the the framework for a trust, (only as a means of defining non monetary assets) using Willmaker. The experience of doing it was interesting, and brought to our attention some of the things we didn't know about or understand, when we had simple wills made back in 1970. It was not a 15 minute project.
BTW, the guidance was state specific..
Some of the things we hadn't thought of, such as exclusions, and what if's, were covered in the questions. Witnesses, Notary, and filing make it legal, even if there are flaws.
I expect that we will revisit the subject and use an attorney as circumstances change, however we feel comfortable in what we've done so far, especially as we have few complicated factors...
The single undone part, is advice to our heirs re:any IRA's that may still have worth.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:22 PM   #9
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I redid my will , advance directives,power of attorney & medical power of attorney last year for $250.00 at a local attorney .
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:26 PM   #10
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IANAL, so I don't know if this is a good price or not. Here is my experience:

Single. 1 child. Large"ish" Midwest metro area (2MM population).

Last will and testament,
Durable POA,
HCPOA,
Medium complexity revocable trust,
Living will,
re-titling of 1 home

$650 for all the documents, summer 2009.

I am detail oriented and used to write contracts as a part of my j*b, so I was a stickler on the trust. I also knew what I wanted going in and had an outline (high level wants in bullet format) laid out in a Word document. He translated it into legalese. The rest was pretty much boiler plate.

Hope this helps you will pricing
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:39 PM   #11
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Thank you for making me grateful for the Hyatt Legal Plan I pay $8 a check for at my j*b. After raising fast driving sons, I could pay those premiums through 2098 and still come out way ahead.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:42 PM   #12
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About 5 yrs ago, I needed a Durable POA for my mother. Did an internet search and found one that looked pretty good, so I made some edits to the doc to fit my needs and saved it. Little did I know this would be challenged in a civil court case. There were multiple challenges to have this POA removed by attorney's and even my attorney questioned who prepared the POA I had and they were shocked that I got it off the internet and modified it. I guess they thought it was pretty legit too. Maybe it was sheer dumb luck that I found a good one and my edits were reasonable. It held up to all legal challenges in front of a judge and was never revoked.

RE: costs we did all of the mentioned items you have on the list. Ours was almost as simple, except we had a minor to consider. Our trust cost falls in your price range, but it had it made 5 yrs ago. If you're doing a trust, a pour over will should be thrown in w/the total cost. No point paying for a simple will separately if you're getting a trust. Looking back, we did the trust since we have a minor and problem family members that wouldn't hesitate to sue just to see what they can get.
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Old 03-14-2013, 06:54 PM   #13
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The reason for a will even when you have a revocable trust is that the will catches what the trust did not. I will give you an example: when my mother died sister did not like the trust provisions. She made noise that she would break the trust until she read the will. The trust made provision for her son, the will specifically excluded her and did not mention her son. She fussed and fumed but no challenge.

Poison pill will.
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Old 03-14-2013, 09:03 PM   #14
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These fees are fair, but usually a little shopping can find better. A pair of identical his and hers wills should offer a better discount than 2x the single price. Likewise with the mish mash of associated documents. 300 for a will and 325 for the kitchen sink collection is not bad. Two copies of each with name change should be almost free. Maybe a couple hundred bucks.

The "Health Care" power of attorney and "Health Care" representative seem like duplication. Maybe it's a state thing.

Unless you have lots of assets to worry about estate taxes or live in a state with problematic probate (not too many do anymore) the living trust and pour over is a really money maker for lawyers but wasteful for you.

Simple will with minor children (so a trust included until they reach a certain age) was $250 for me. Another $150 for all the HIPPA and Power of Attorney stuff. Not quite as long a list as yours but enough for what I wanted. No spouse, but the standard "deal" the attorney offered was matching his-and-hers sets for $600, where I paid $400 for one set. I got quotes from $200 to $5000 for similar docs. Lots of lawyers pushed hard on the living trust/pour over idea which was $2500 to $8000 all in.
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Old 03-14-2013, 09:48 PM   #15
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The advantage of a revocable trust is that its asserts are disbursed without the AOK of a third party and there is a lot of flexibility in its provisions. It is not an inheritance tax vehicle. IMHO, don't leave this earth without one.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:03 AM   #16
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Unless you have lots of assets to worry about estate taxes or live in a state with problematic probate (not too many do anymore) the living trust and pour over is a really money maker for lawyers but wasteful for you.
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The advantage of a revocable trust is that its asserts are disbursed without the AOK of a third party and there is a lot of flexibility in its provisions. It is not an inheritance tax vehicle. IMHO, don't leave this earth without one.
I expect we'll want a living trust eventually, but not inclined to do it now because
  • we're both in our late 50's (not likely to get hit by a bus) and
  • we expect to move to another state in about 2 years.
While I know states must honor wills from other states, I assume variation in state laws could make a trust a nightmare - why pay twice? So I'm thinking we may move forward with a living trust when we establish residence elsewhere. My parents established a trust years ago, so we're somewhat familiar with how it works.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:47 AM   #17
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We paid $1000 or so in NJ a few years ago.

If you already have wills & the other docs, why do you need to update them?
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:52 AM   #18
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If you already have wills & the other docs, why do you need to update them?
reasons to update will - Google Search
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:53 AM   #19
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We paid $1000 or so in NJ a few years ago.

If you already have wills & the other docs, why do you need to update them?
19 years old, and far enough out of date that we'd like to update. I assume the language needs to reflect the times as well (based on previous contests)?
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:06 AM   #20
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In 2008 I had a will, living will, and durable power of attorney done for a total of $130 dollars.
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