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Old 01-19-2011, 07:59 PM   #21
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I am embarrassed to confess I do not have a Will but decided to write one this year. How did you write yours - did you get a lawyer or did you start in places like this www.legalzoom.com ?

Do you recommend the new Do it yourself pap smear test or would you rather they go to a regular OB- Gyn physician ? Pretty much the same thing for wills . You can do it yourself or go to a lawyer .
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:21 PM   #22
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I think this is great advice . When I did my first will the lawyer went over every possible scenario and it really helped solidify things . I am now on my fourth will and have always used a lawyer . I also got power of attorney and health care surrogate and living will .
Excellent advice.

We always use a lawyer - there's just too many idiosyncrasies in the law to use a do-it-yourself will. We review our wills and related legal documents every five years with our attorney.

It's not that difficult and it shouldn't be that expensive. A good attorney will interview you, draft a will, explain all the aspects of the draft, and go to final form with copies. As Moemg said - it's just as important to have the other legal documents such as limited POAs, Health Care Directive, and a Directive to Physician.

The worse thing someone can do to their family is die intestate.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #23
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We have had three wills done, two my military lawyers and one Nolo. I was impressed with how much Nolo looked like the ones done by the lawyers. In fact, it was configured for Texas law. Our estate is simple. Mine goes to DW, DW to me, and if we are both gone to the two kids equal. As the kids are over 38, no guardian was necessary. Total estate less than $1,000,000
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:46 PM   #24
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if you think you will have tax deferred accounts still in place "when the man comes around"
you may want a trust for those accounts so your beneficiaries can maintain some of
the tax deferred benefits of those accounts. Given that, you may want to
do the lawyer route for the will..
Or if you are interested in a charitable donation use the tax deferred accounts for the donation, this skips the income in respect of a decedent and gives the entire amount to the charity.
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Old 01-20-2011, 12:48 PM   #25
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My will is ~20 years old, really need to update.
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Old 01-20-2011, 01:01 PM   #26
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I had a really old will made with willmaker (on floppy disks).

I kept meaning to update it, and then I died.
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Old 01-20-2011, 01:06 PM   #27
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I had a really old will made with willmaker (on floppy disks).

I kept meaning to update it, and then I died.
And then, to continue this saga, the Black Sheep and the second cousin challenged your willmaker will and after extensive litigation were awarded what was left of the estate. The various estate attorneys though, who represented a variety of interested parties, received the lions share of the estate in very expensive legal fees.

The widow was thrown out of the family house, now in foreclosure, and had to go live in her car.

But you saved a couple hundred dollars up front.
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Old 01-20-2011, 01:07 PM   #28
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I really need to make sure that my relatives inherit nothing.
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Old 01-20-2011, 05:53 PM   #29
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Thank you everyone for your answers. Much appreciated.
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:23 PM   #30
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I want to go a step past getting all the legal documents in order.

We have all our legal documents in a vertical case file so we can grab and go. There is a "Death and Critical Illness" folder in the back of the file folder. The reason for having a folder such as this is simple: people forget what to do in times of extreme stress.

This folder contains everything the surviving spouse / executor needs to have access to such as original wills, all our directives, car titles, all financial information (including location, account numbers, and phone numbers), cemetery information (monument already in place), property titles, social security information, and the most important document - the checklist. My spouse and I review the folder about every six months so we can make sure all the information is current and to clearly understand what is expected of the survivor. We have not sat down with the executors; but, they know about the case file, where it's stored, and what's expected of them.

Where I'm going with this is it's not only important to have the legal documents; it's just as important to know what to do with them.
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:13 PM   #31
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Isn't that what a safety deposit box is for?
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Old 01-20-2011, 07:59 PM   #32
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Isn't that what a safety deposit box is for?
Every attorney we've used over the years has recommended against putting original wills in safety deposit boxes since an executor usually cannot easily get to it.

What if the crisis happened at a time the bank was closed and you needed the health care directive (for the secondary agent if spouse is not available)? We would never trust these documents outside our physical care. And, yes, we have a fireproof / heat proof safe in the house. Both spouses and executors have the combination.
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:16 PM   #33
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Please! NEVER put wills in a safe deposit box! The next of kin needs to be able to access this for your instructions and the box is sealed when the bank is notified of your death.

And hope everyone does the rest of the stuff in addition to your wills, including durable health care power of attorney (with contingent if your spouse is your primary) and the living will document appropriate for your state (if you move, please get the right form and make it accessible to your health care proxy (ie, power of atty).
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:11 PM   #34
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Do you recommend the new Do it yourself pap smear test or would you rather they go to a regular OB- Gyn physician ? Pretty much the same thing for wills . You can do it yourself or go to a lawyer .
Ouch, talk about your anatomical challenges!

I don't want to know where the mirror goes...
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:17 PM   #35
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Please! NEVER put wills in a safe deposit box! The next of kin needs to be able to access this for your instructions and the box is sealed when the bank is notified of your death.
Not true in the Frozen North (where I live). Don't know about the US.
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Old 01-20-2011, 11:59 PM   #36
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A few years ago, I figured that DW and I really needed to do something about our total lack of will or estate planning. We had been seriously remiss having waited so long! We set a goal to do it that summer. Started by getting Nolo Press books from the library, and read up on it. Even considered attempting to do it ourselves.

But I thought that route could end in a mess. You don't know what you don't know. Something could be overlooked. Or something may not be quite right, or unworkable. And it would not be discovered until it is used. And one or both of us would be dead by then, so no course correction! Could leave a big expensive mess for the next generation, and could create dissention. Nothing like money to tear people apart.

The reading up on it was worthwhile, as we could talk about it intelligently (at least I could back then, it's fading now). Got a recommendation for a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. Initial talk was free, we talked over the basics of what we wanted, and he pointed out different things and things to watch out for. We knew that we wanted a trust setup, Nolo Pess calls it an A-B Trust, another name is a Disclaimer Trust. This was in addition to a Pour-Over Will, POA's, Health Directives, etc. He took down names, relations, etc.

He sent us the draft documents... it was over 1/2" thick. When I started flipping through it, I thought "what an overkill". But I sat down to read through it, it took a couple of sittings to do so, I made notes on a tablet as I went along. I changed my viewpoint completely. It was really good. I saw what his purpose was... cover every eventuality. Leave no stone unturned, no outcome unforseen. No matter what, there was a defined path. It was incredibly thorough, covering many things we never thought of. To help me understand the trust creations and dissolutions, I created a flow diagram. That really helped me understand the trusts.

The few "mistakes" I thought I found in the draft, turned out to be special legal wording needed to make it stand up in court. In addition, the appropriate parts are written to the laws of our state.

Also included where copies of the text and what else I would need to send to mutual fund companies, etc. to change taxable investments to be in the Telly Family Revocable Trust. And the text and what else I would need to cajole/bludgeon mutual fund companies to use for our IRA's. This is important, as IRA's as you know are governed by the beneficiaries you list for them, and pass on thusly. But for the Disclaimer Trust to do it's tax-minimization routine, the trust agreement needs to be the benny.

All mutual fund co's we have were able to handle the taxable accounts and put them into the trust with no problem, they knew how to do it. But the IRA's were another story. One big mutual fund company took the text and trust and put it on file, and our beneficiaries for those funds now say "trust agreement on file" or something close to that as bennys for those IRA's. They did it right, no problem.
Vanguard was a real problem. No, they don't do it. Then yes they DO do it, send it to these people. No they don't, yes they do... after many phone calls stretching out over months, they agreed to do it. But then about 2 weeks later we got a special mailing from them saying that they DON'T do it. But weasel words between the lines to the effect that if our account was big enough, maybe they might. Thank you very much, Vanguard!

Even if you may think that your view today of how many $ your estate may have is not multi-million, think of the chart output of FireCalc, where some of the possible outcomes are way up there. I'd prefer not to have much of it just handed over to the feds as general revenue. And we cannot predict what the exemption will be in any future year. So a process that treats the surviving spouse and future generations the best is the way we went. It cost about $2k.

I think by doing all this, we also made sure that we didn't create a "Jarndyce and Jarndyce" situation!
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Old 01-21-2011, 06:27 AM   #37
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Back in 2008, my dad's financial advisor suggested to him that he get his estate plan updated. His wife (my mother) had died in 1995 and the will was never updated.

He got a lawyer and we (my dad, my brother, and I) updated his will, got a health care proxy, and set up an IAMT (Irrevocable Asset Management Trust) to get the house out of his name for legal purposes. It cost us about $3,000 to set it all up and my brother and I split the cost.

After that was over, I used the same lawyer to set up my own and HCP. Even though I am not married and have no children, I have some relatives, several friends, and a charity I will leave my money and valuables to. This cost me about $1,500 to set up.
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Old 01-21-2011, 07:38 AM   #38
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I am embarrassed to confess I do not have a Will but decided to write one this year. How did you write yours - did you get a lawyer or did you start in places like this www.legalzoom.com ?
You are not married. You may have a significant estate. I would see a good estate planner, not just anyone who hangs out a shingle. You may consider asking a lawyer that is not an expert in that area who she or he recommends. You could also ask your accountant if you have one. Good accountants often know who the good estate planners are.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:51 AM   #39
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For us, a lawyer offered cheap peace of mind. We went to a lawyer that drew up my mothers estate. My mother passed away this year, and I was able to witness first hand how much simpler her will made life for people left to manage affairs.
In my case, I was the executor and beneficiary to her house and investments (no siblings). For several years, my mother made me a joint owner to her estate. I was able to help her and run errands for her as joint owner and her life as well as mine was made much easier. When her mental faculties started to diminish, I could protect her from some of the worst of the wolves wanting to 'help' her (for a fee). With only a little help, she was able to stay independent to the end which was hugely important to her.
If I had not gone to the lawyer for my will, I would have neglected the other important planning such as power of attorney, living will, etc...
My wife's and my estate planning was simple, (an I-love-you will) so the total cost was $300 for the entire set for both me and my wife.

Now, all I have to do is remember to not eat the mushrooms.
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Old 01-22-2011, 05:25 AM   #40
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Again a big thank you to all those who have taken the time to answer. I have decided to start the process and go to my bank next week in case they know a laywer. I do not want to work with lawyers from work. Will avoid the web-based services for the time being. Take care everyone.
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