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Will - where do I start ?
Old 01-19-2011, 03:38 AM   #1
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Will - where do I start ?

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 ?
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:54 AM   #2
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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 ?

When I was in the Navy, the Legal Services office would do simple wills for free. When I retired, I went to an attorney. I had marked up the old Navy will with any changes I wanted and brought along a list of wants and questions for the lawyer. He put together a draft and I went through that and noted any changes I wanted. When we had a final I was happy with, I signed it and got it witnessed.

When I moved to another state 6 years ago, I had a local lawyer review it and update it for an peculiarities of the laws here.

I know a lot of people use do it yourself wills, but I think it's worth a few hundred bucks for the piece of mind that someone who knows what he's doing it is reviewing it and always thinking "what could go wrong?" as he does so.
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:55 AM   #3
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We used a lawyer. The lawyer was a relative who specialized in family law and was generous with his time.

I saw this article recently, and it is relevant to your question:
Forbes.com - Magazine Article

I can't comment on the quality of the advice, but it does list several documents involved and the pros and cons of the lawyer / no-lawyer approaches. Being in the medical business, you are likely familiar with several of them.

State-specific issues are common, I believe, so watch out when reading advice aimed at a national audience.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:17 AM   #4
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I would start by finding a lawyer. Ask around for recommendations. You can also look up a lawyer's ratings in the Martindale-Hubbell directory.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:38 AM   #5
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Lot of information here:

Wills, Trusts, Living Wills, Estate Tax, Probate & Estate Planning - Free Law Resources - Nolo
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:50 AM   #6
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We procrastinated, went to a lawyer several years back and started the process but when we took it home to review, we kept saying, "we should change that or this", we forgot to consider this, etc. And never finalized it.

At the end of 2009 we knew we needed to get the whole estate thing done (Wills, POA, Healthcare directive, etc). Worked with a different attorney who specialized in this area.

In comparison, our situation is simple, just the DW and myself (no children). We talked about doing some charity donations, dealing with siblings who had children with special needs, how to handle a sibling predeceasing their spouse.

Our FIRE plan run out through a generous life expectancy. leaves us still with a sizeable nest egg.

We would up immobilized and stuck again. All this time with nothing in place.

Finally we decided - just make it simple and get something in place. So we got all the documents done and in place. We didn't account for every possible situation.

Now we are taking another look and are planning to make a few tweaks this year. We were waiting to see if the estate tax laws changed for 2011.

As Nike says - just do it!!
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:38 AM   #7
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I finally went to my banker who is also my lawyer and he did the whole thing (will, living will, power of attorney, etc.) for $130. It is, however, a very simple will; just sell everything and set up a scholarship fund.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:49 AM   #8
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Nolo WillMaker software. Our situation is very simple.
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Old 01-19-2011, 09:40 AM   #9
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The NOLO package is really good. All you need if you have a simple estate. When/if we do a living trust we will have a will done by a lawyer. But if you are looking for simple, quick coverage (as we were as we were going on some adventure travels) just go with NOLO. Better than nothing and maybe everything you need.
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Old 01-19-2011, 10:52 AM   #10
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In theory you could do a will on an old grocery bag.

But really, if your estate is likely to include your leftover nestegg and maybe a house and other stuff the estate could be worth some real money.

The last thing you want is for your spouse or your heirs to not get what you wanted them to. Spell it out clearly in the will.

In my state absent a will, the spouse only gets half of the estate. The other half goes to the kids and other relatives.

Don't be a cheapskate here. This is really important - go find a lawyer and pay his fees. There are probably a number of things that you haven't considered that a lawyer may help with.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:30 PM   #11
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Our 2011 resolution was to get our wills updated. We last did ours 13 years ago long before the birth of some nieces and nephews that we would like to include. Also we really need to do something as our will is in Australia and we are actually resident in the US so not sure what effect that would have. Our situation is complicated by the fact of not having children. We have decided we want to leave some money to nieces and nephews but the rest is to go to charity and we just haven't decided what charity that should be.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:38 PM   #12
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I'd use a lawyer if it is your first will. Take advantage of it to learn the concepts and terminology. Perhaps you'll then be comfortable doing it on your own in future.
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Old 01-19-2011, 01:13 PM   #13
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Not coincidentally, we are redoing our wills this week. I recommend a lawyer who can do simple wills, especially if your estate leaves assets to minor children, as ours does.
It is money well spent. Just ask around your professional associates, like your CPA perhaps, or other trusted advisor for a suggestion.
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Old 01-19-2011, 01:27 PM   #14
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I'd use a lawyer if it is your first will. Take advantage of it to learn the concepts and terminology. Perhaps you'll then be comfortable doing it on your own in future.

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 .
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:31 PM   #15
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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 ?
I'd use all the software and website resources you've seen so far, and write up your will the way you'd like it to read.

Then I'd take it to a lawyer for a loophole check and the final signatures/witnessing.

The advantage of using the other resources is that you can spend weeks or months educating yourself on the basics without paying huge lawyer's bills. Your education makes it harder for an unscrupulously aggressive lawyer to overwhelm you with fear, uncertainty, and upselling. Once you're educated you can show up in their office with a draft, tweak it as necessary for your state's probate laws, and be done with it.

Now that our daughter's turned 18 we need to get ourselves to a lawyer to remove her guardians from our will and make her our executrix. Part of our confidence in doing this is being able to refer her to my brother-in-law the CPA for advice and tax help.
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:31 PM   #16
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I just downloaded all the forms from ILRG Legal Forms Archive - 2,000+ Free Legal Forms and Documents and filled in my details. E.g. for wills, a more direct link is ILRG - Ten Steps to Completing Your Last Will and Testament. I am sure there are plenty of horror stories you can find - both with and without attorney-prepared wills, but I personally have a "piece of mind" going with this simple route. (I notarized all documents in a local bank branch.)
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:37 PM   #17
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We just used the NOLO software. Simple will with first to spouse, then to all the grown kids. Chances are that our non-beneficiary assets will be few (mainly the house and personal items). My mom died last year without a will, but she maintained a journal of her wishes. Worked fine since all of us siblings got along.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:48 PM   #18
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For me, I've paid the lawyer for what I saw as a "one-time" expense, all three times. For a couple hundred bucks it's worth knowing it was done right and the result would be what I wanted.

Otherwise someone else makes those decisions and it's unlikely you'd agree with them.

I think for many people it is simply not wanting to face the reality of their own mortality.
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:11 PM   #19
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Timely thread since a Will is on the top of my 'resolution list' for 2011.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords View Post
I'd use all the software and website resources you've seen so far, and write up your will the way you'd like it to read.

Then I'd take it to a lawyer for a loophole check and the final signatures/witnessing.

The advantage of using the other resources is that you can spend weeks or months educating yourself on the basics without paying huge lawyer's bills. Your education makes it harder for an unscrupulously aggressive lawyer to overwhelm you with fear, uncertainty, and upselling. Once you're educated you can show up in their office with a draft, tweak it as necessary for your state's probate laws, and be done with it.
....
I like this suggestion and will follow this approach. The research and studying would be needed even if everything is done by a lawyer since I'd want to at least try to attempt to understand the final paper. I've recently seen one of those Will horror stories in my family (fortunately I was not part of the mess). The problems were caused by some not so good advice by the lawyer...
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:53 PM   #20
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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..
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