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Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 06:10 AM   #1
 
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Will I actually die someday - Wills?

I know, I know, I NEED a will? Not any will but a $400 lawyer-written will. Yada, yada.

But why?

I read the why-you-need-a-will articles but I still get confused when the Ted Williamses of the world make the news.

Ted Williams had a will and the court ignored it because of something scribbled on a napkin. What was the POINT? (His estate is back in the news since the wicked son died and the daughter has come forward again.)

I guess even a homeless man with no possessions, relative or friends needs a will because he might get hit on the head by an engine that has fallen off that L-1011 that just took off. And this will result in Millions going to his estate. And then where do these millions go?

But, assuming simple possessions are already in children's names ... all bank accounts set up to go to kids and kids are already on deed ... why can't I just write somthing up myself, have a couple witnesses, get signatures notarized?

Anyone have a will that they wrote themselves? Are you a fool? I asume not.
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 06:46 AM   #2
 
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

I always write my own wills. Have for over 30 years, and I am no fool. Of course, I haven't died yet either.

John Galt
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 09:28 AM   #3
 
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

Here's a slightly differeent kind of "Wills" oriented question.

I am pretty much alone in the world. Just a few relatives back east, that's all.

I have no problem with deliniating who is going to get what. That's the easy part. (And J Galt is right. If you know where you want your crap to go and there are no Anna Nicholes to contest things you dont need a lawyer. You just have to make your wishes know some how. Writing it down is good enough)

MY problem is this: If I keel over right here at the computer tomorrow night, and next Monday the manager comes in with the police to investigate the oder teh neighbors have been complaining about and dispatch the body......., what kind of arrangements do I need to make before hand to MAKE SURE SOMEBODY knows where the "Fortune Cookie" is? "The secret envelope with instructions" ?

All they have is a body, and an ID. (My wallet is here and the offcie will know ho I am.) The Police can probably trace my next of kin to Pennsylvania. OK. Now what? They'll need money to come here and pick up my stuff to begin with. How do they get it? How do these details get known and the "Plan" set into action?
Seems easy till I start to think about it.

And NO, I will now give those people a copy of teh will or my wishes beforehand. Sounds a little grusome. Here, Joe. In case I die follow these instructions. Here's my account numbers. I gave you signature authority
No. Ney ney.
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 10:24 AM   #4
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

I am a lawyer but don't do estate planning. I do know, however, that each state has its own rules about what makes a valid will. For example, some states require it to be witnessed by two people and everyone's signature notarized, even the witnesses. Other states allow holographic wills, a will in your own handwriting, without the need for witnesses.


People often worry about paying lawyers. I understand there is a cost and it is hard to place a value on estate planning. . However it is often even more expensive not to hire a lawyer. If you have a taxable estate, a lawyer's assistance can go a long way to save your heirs taxes (if you care that your heirs might have a huge tax bill). A lawyer can make sure that your intentions are carried out. A lawyer can tell you if you can or cannot do something in your particular state of residence. There are many pitfalls. For example, to disinherit a child in some states requires special language in a will. Spouses may have the right to elect certain assets even if a will provides otherwise. 401ks and other retirement plans have their own set of rules. I am sure an estate planning lawyer would know of many other potential problems. An estate planning lawyer certaining can tell you stories of how things can go wrong if planning is not done right. I have heard many.

For some of the practical problems Lohengrin raised, It might make sense to have an "in case of emergency please call x" card in your wallet. I have a friend who lives and works alone who has that, as well a similar notice posted by his phone. You might want someone to have a power of attorney to deal with your affairs if you don't die, but are incapacitated. Some states also allow health care directives.

I could go on and on with this, but really, I do believe it is worth talking to a lawyer about these issues. I know for all of you frugal, independent types, this might go against your grain, but this is my two cents worth. Call an experienced estate planner and ask him or her to sell you on why you need planning and why you should pay their fee.
Martha

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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 10:54 AM   #5
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

Quote:
I am a lawyer
Uh oh.
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 11:00 AM   #6
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

I knew I never should have admitted it.

Martha
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

And the bartender asks the horse: "Why the long face?"

Then the polar bear says "Can I have a... ... ... ... ... ... beer?"

To which the bartender replies "Why the big pause?"
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 11:54 AM   #8
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

Quote:
OK, let's play. A lawyer, a priest and an undertaker walk into a bar .......
and the bartender says, is this some kind of joke?
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 12:53 PM   #9
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

I want to add one other point to the comments I made before and then I'll leave this alone. Sometimes people do all sorts of things to avoid probate, such as putting assets in the names of children. I want to give at least one warning on this practice. There are probably more that I am missing (cya, cya). A child's divorce or a child's bankruptcy at a later date can cause problems. Say you transfer your home to your three children and keep a life estate so you can continue to live there until you die. One of your kid's gets a divorce and the ex-spouse now wants to be paid for an interest in your home. Say another child files bankrutpcy. The bankruptcy trustee will want to be paid for your child's share of the home's value. If one of the kids dies, who gets their share? What if your child is applying for financial aid for one of their children's schooling? The value of their share of the home will lilkely count against them.

and on and on.

Martha
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 01:13 PM   #10
 
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

Martha is correct. Most times putting your assets
under control of kids (or others) can lead to disaster.
It is necessary at times, but to be avoided IMHO.

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Re:  You may need a will, but...
Old 03-24-2004, 02:33 PM   #11
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Re:  You may need a will, but...

You can learn a lot from reading the right books and knowing the vocabulary instead of hiring lawyers to teach it to you.

The problem is that each state has their own laws, so national estate-planning books tend to be too generic in their advice. One approach is to check local newspapers for reviews of estate-planning books written by local experts. We have a couple of those in my state that have been most educational. Your local librarian will be able to find a good starter text.

Another fantastic source of estate-planning wisdom is Ed Slott's IRA website at http://www.irahelp.com. It's amazing how quickly you can screw up an IRA beneficiary designation and have to pay the government thousands in "unnecessary" taxes. That book alone generated a whole page of notes & questions.

So after reading the books I learned that we need wills, living wills (now known as a "healthcare directive"), durable powers of attorney, and general powers of attorney. Another page of notes & questions... and we're still on our first spouses!

Other frills include revocable living trusts and schemes to avoid estate taxes. More acronyms, more notes, more questions.

We've spent a couple of entertaining mornings at the "free" seminars given by local estate-planning lawyers. One had a revolving PowerPoint presentation of famous Hollywood stars' estates at death, minus the costs of probate. (Most of the stars were from the 1930s-50s, so you immediately knew your audience demographic.) Everyone had probate costs in the millions (the lawyers picked their examples carefully) except for Frank Sinatra-- who had set up trusts and was able to funnel most of his $200M estate directly to his beneficiaries.

Sitting on my desk is a copy of Kiplinger's WillPower. As soon as I finish the tax returns we'll use WillPower to set up our estate plan. That won't be sufficient for our estate planning but it'll help us clarify our thinking and educate ourselves on the vocabulary BEFORE we pay the lawyer to do it for us.

I've been told (by the local lawyers) that our estate-planning paperwork will cost approx $2600. That includes a free annual review with an hour's update work. Retitling possessions into living trusts may cost extra or we may do it ourselves.

$2600 is a big chunk of change, but when my grandfather left a very simple $90K estate of stocks & mutual funds his Ohio lawyer received nearly $4000 to "process" it into the beneficiary's hands. Worse yet, my father spent over a year working on probate issues and tax returns. So although our own estate plan should be cheaper than probate, it should also greatly reduce the executor's & trustee's hassle factor. That's even more compelling than the savings.
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 03:14 PM   #12
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

Napoleanic law and LA have been morphing towards the rest of the US over the last two decades. Dont own to much business stuff or have kids under age 23. Simple handwritten wills and IRA benificiary work for our uncomplicated case. BUT a second opinion (professional) is on my to do list. First opinion was a LA judge(sponsored by our retirement group) who actually thought probate was best for most (no special circumstances) people in LA>
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-24-2004, 03:57 PM   #13
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

In Texas, if the law has not changed, there is no
probate needed for estates below a certain
amount. I can't remember the figure but it is
more than the average estate. My wife and I
fell for the smooth talk of a living trust hawker
several years ago to my regret. In our case,
it was probably a waste of money.

Cheers,

Charlie (aka Chuck-Lyn)
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 03-28-2004, 05:52 AM   #14
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

set up a trust and spell out what you want before you die.

and put right in there................

if someone goes against what i said in my will.

*they get nothing.

and if they come back after they get something wanting more.

*they have to give away what they received.

*.

you would be suprised how many relatives "they think you are", when you die.

*
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?
Old 04-05-2004, 02:07 AM   #15
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Re: Will I actually die someday - Wills?

i just meant; people claiming to be.

from seeing it first hand.

a friend had people who he had never met, yet these folks felt he was related to them, after his mother died and had things of value

try reading it again and see the message

not find fault

also, the medical,thing don't mean shlt

*i have seen many dnr papers as well as other situations where the wishes of the one who could not speak for themself.


were over ruled by the wishes of a family member/brother sister/relative.

*you need to go it 1 further and say.

*if..........goes against what i wish.......they get *O !

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