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Old 01-04-2018, 10:10 AM   #61
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It's possible every state is different. I had always heard that assets needed to be moved to a trust to avoid probate too. In fact, when I had a lawyer write mine 15 years ago, he attached a dollar bill to initially fund the trust. Also as my Mother's POA, I "moved" most all of her assets to her marital trust before she passed as instructed by her lawyer.

I mentioned the "pour over" because that is how a very expensive estate lawyer (well known and respected in my state) wrote my Dad's will. None of his assets were titled to the trust and the assets did not have to be probated. He was the last to pass. In all cases though (both Mom's and Dads), an accounting was done.

Either the lawyer was right...and in my state it was allowed via this pour over clause or he wasn't worth the money I'm sure he was paid ..which goes back to the point of whether it is worth it or not to hire lawyers for this, if fairly simple. By simple, I mean leaving things to your children or grandchildren that are straightforward, not tied up in trust for 50 plus years, etc. Except I know we did not probate my Dad's assets so the "pour over" clause worked just fine.
In your dads case, do you know if there were any "titled" assets (such as a house) that were moved inside the trust after death as part of the "pour over" will (without probate)?

I've sent an email to the lawyer that did my will asking about these "pour over" wills connected to trusts.
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Old 01-04-2018, 10:18 AM   #62
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We do not have a will either. The problem is there is only 2 of us with no heirs and siblings who will more than likely be gone before us. We have POD on ALL our Accounts, they are joint anyway with each other as beneficiaries, the properties are in both names.

I really do need to do one, even if just leaves all to The "Blind Dogs" or whatever DW wants. I personally have no preference who gets it all when we are both gone.

No excuse though, a New Years Resolution. I will use Nolo Will maker and get it notarized, and give a copy to the executor.
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Old 01-04-2018, 11:21 AM   #63
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everything is on autopay set to pay in full / deposit in full So I was right for not taking it out of the trust (it's the only thing in it). Who'd think I could be right by not doing something!!
Gayl- Yes, sounds like you did good to keep your trust and the house in it. If you have a trust you might as well put your bank accounts in it. Remember that you have all current bills on autopay but when a person becomes incapacitated a new bill will arrive (i.e. caretakers, medical, etc...). Having a person with access to the accounts is important. Since you already have a trust you might as well use it! Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2018, 11:40 AM   #64
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In your dads case, do you know if there were any "titled" assets (such as a house) that were moved inside the trust after death as part of the "pour over" will (without probate)?

I've sent an email to the lawyer that did my will asking about these "pour over" wills connected to trusts.
All of his assets including the family home were moved/transferred to the trust after his death and without probate. No assets had been titled to the trust prior to his passing.

Part of the reason for using a Trust Document ...is not just to avoid probate but it is also for privacy. It keeps the public from knowing the assets and "what the heirs" receive.

If all of the details are stated in a Will...then the public has access to it since Wills are filed with the courts. Trust Documents do not have to be filed with the courts. At least not in my state. A "pour over" clause to a Trust, in a Will is also vague enough that the public won't know what you have or what you are leaving.

As another aside...everyone needs a will so their estate is not deemed "intestate" where the state decides how assets are distributed based on state laws/formulas, etc. I can't imagine how long THAT takes!!!
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:05 PM   #65
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Here is an interesting read about what can go wrong when a legal contract is drafted wrong. This is one of the most famous cases, but far from the only time it has happened. Hell, if all contracts (and wills) were written without controversy, then the courts wouldn't be nearly as bottled up.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business...s5J/story.html
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:06 PM   #66
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But the problem becomes, how does the average person find an attorney that they can be sure does know their stuff?

I have been unimpressed with the place my in-laws used, even though they have all the credentials that would make you think they are a top notch place. I found mistakes in their documents, they couldn't explain things that they wrote 20 years ago (same guy). Their software spits out generic boilerplate to dazzle the client.

But at least with something like NOLO, it has some of the benefits of open-source software. There have been many, many eyes on it, it's standardized and there is feedback to improve it. I'm sure that's not perfect, but I personally have far more faith in it than some private practice where I have no real way to verify if they are competent or not.

-ERD50
To begin with you can look for lawyers that are board certified in Estate Planning and probate.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:17 PM   #67
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I'm an avid DIYer on almost everything. Wills and related documents are no exception. Fortunately, our situation is very straightforward... two adult children, no prior marriages, no complicated assets or scenarios, assets that can all be titled with TOD/POD/beneficiaries, and unlikely to exceed estate tax threshold.

In our case, 98% of our net worth is in assets that are either jointly owned with TOD to our 2 kids, or individually owned with spouse as primary beneficiary and kids as 50/50 contingent beneficiaries (and per stirpes). Even real estate is jointly owned with TOD to the kids. Texas allows TOD deeds for real estate. If one of us dies, the survivor gets everything. If we both die at the same time, the kids get everything 50/50. Only the cars and household goods (the other 2%) would potentially go through probate, and from what I've read, even that is avoidable in Texas. We also have a will, including living will and durable POA, that we did on legalzoom for around $200 IIRC.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:17 PM   #68
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I could probably write a very long response to this but there are so many variables in estate planning, wills, probates, etc, that I'm not sure anyone would care or find it useful. However, after being the executor of several wills (two were over 1m estates) I have found that POD's and TOD's can be wonderful things in many "simple" estates even if there's a good deal of money (1m+) involved.

Example the last one I did had POD on all financial accounts which totally bypassed the need for any probate. The only thing that needed probate was for the sale of a house and car, which could have been handled outside probate too if a little more planning had been done.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:31 PM   #69
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Along this same line, I ran into a bit of an issue getting it notarized. Banks here are no longer notarizing wills or trust. Finding a lawyer to notarize something they didn't write was a bit problematic too. But I found one. I suppose one can find any notary to do it. After all, they are just notarizing that it is "you" signing.

You will need witnesses too.
I think I remember that being an issue with folks trust .... not witnessed or notarized. I learned a lot about what not to do and this thread is bringing up additional issues (like incapacitated VS dead)
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Having a person with access to the accounts is important. Since you already have a trust you might as well use it! Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:37 PM   #70
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I'm an avid DIYer on almost everything. Wills and related documents are no exception. Fortunately, our situation is very straightforward... two adult children, no prior marriages, no complicated assets or scenarios, assets that can all be titled with TOD/POD/beneficiaries, and unlikely to exceed estate tax threshold.

In our case, 98% of our net worth is in assets that are either jointly owned with TOD to our 2 kids, or individually owned with spouse as primary beneficiary and kids as 50/50 contingent beneficiaries (and per stirpes). Even real estate is jointly owned with TOD to the kids. Texas allows TOD deeds for real estate. If one of us dies, the survivor gets everything. If we both die at the same time, the kids get everything 50/50. Only the cars and household goods (the other 2%) would potentially go through probate, and from what I've read, even that is avoidable in Texas. We also have a will, including living will and durable POA, that we did on legalzoom for around $200 IIRC.
We're in the same situation. Everything is POD/TOD with the exception of houses and cars, all of which can be set up TOD if we want to. The vast majority of our money is in IRA's with POD to our 3 kids per stripes.

I'm just trying to figure out if we want to "control from the grave" what ultimately happens to our money for things like:

1) Do we want all of the money to be distributed at once or over time? Our oldest is 32 and youngest 19. Do we really want a 19 year old to come into decent money at that age, as unlikely as that would be?

2) If something should happen to our DD, do we want to do something that makes sure our money is left to the grandkids and not my SIL's next wife?

3) One DD isn't really very good with money. Do we want to set up a Trust and have a Trustee handle the money management for her and give the other kids theirs right away? Probably not.

There a lot of these kinds of things that can happen. Do I worry about it, or just work to make sure everything goes to the beneficiaries without probate? Haven't decided yet.
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:03 PM   #71
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To begin with you can look for lawyers that are board certified in Estate Planning and probate.
Sounds good, but I just spent 15 minutes googling, and came up blank.

I'm pretty good with search engines, found plenty of sites that allowed a lawyer search by state, and board certification specialty, but nada, zip.

Did I screw up somehow (how?)? Or is it really that rare, or just not search-able? Seems anyone board certified would want to promote that.

OK, found two lawyers in the entire Chicago area here:

EPLS Introduction - NAEPC

But it's not clear how official this certification (designation?) is - info is a little sketchy, is this just a "pay to add initials to your business card" and take 15 hours of "continuous education" a year?


-ERD50
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Old 01-04-2018, 01:40 PM   #72
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Sounds good, but I just spent 15 minutes googling, and came up blank.

I'm pretty good with search engines, found plenty of sites that allowed a lawyer search by state, and board certification specialty, but nada, zip.

Did I screw up somehow (how?)? Or is it really that rare, or just not search-able? Seems anyone board certified would want to promote that.

OK, found two lawyers in the entire Chicago area here:

EPLS Introduction - NAEPC

But it's not clear how official this certification (designation?) is - info is a little sketchy, is this just a "pay to add initials to your business card" and take 15 hours of "continuous education" a year?


-ERD50

"Board certified" or in California "Certified specialist" are a great start. In California, for example, there is a list by county on the state bar website. I imagine Illinois has similar.

Other things to look for:
- years of experience (you can't beat that);
- focus on estate planning (not general practitioner);
- ask if they do the work or a young associate attorney or paralegal;
- lawyers.com (Martindale Hubbel) is the oldest ratings service - look for "AV" rated - though this is far from perfect;
- lesser rating sites include avvo.com (look for 10.0);
- recommendations from trusted professionals/friends who are like minded;

Good luck.
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Old 01-04-2018, 03:16 PM   #73
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"Board certified" or in California "Certified specialist" are a great start. In California, for example, there is a list by county on the state bar website. I imagine Illinois has similar.
...
No, Illinois didn't give me anything on board certification. Again, unless my google skills are just failing me.

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Originally Posted by CaliKid View Post
....

Other things to look for:
- years of experience (you can't beat that);
- focus on estate planning (not general practitioner);
- ask if they do the work or a young associate attorney or paralegal;
- lawyers.com (Martindale Hubbel) is the oldest ratings service - look for "AV" rated - though this is far from perfect;
- lesser rating sites include avvo.com (look for 10.0);
- recommendations from trusted professionals/friends who are like minded;

Good luck.
Thanks, but sorry, that list just doesn't do it for me. An actual board certification might help, but not that list. The lawyers.com site didn't seem to be much different from a yellow pages search.

Sound too much like how to find an FA. Years of experience and references don't tell me anything about what they do for customers - most customers don't know if they are getting their money's worth or not anyhow.


-ERD50
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:22 PM   #74
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No, Illinois didn't give me anything on board certification. Again, unless my google skills are just failing me.



Thanks, but sorry, that list just doesn't do it for me. An actual board certification might help, but not that list. The lawyers.com site didn't seem to be much different from a yellow pages search.

Sound too much like how to find an FA. Years of experience and references don't tell me anything about what they do for customers - most customers don't know if they are getting their money's worth or not anyhow.


-ERD50
When looking at lawyers.com you look for the "av" rating. That, along with experience, along with focus on estate planning, likely will lead you to a very good attorney. Like most things in life there is not a perfect answer for all. This organization is reputable and they have a certification program. They have some attorneys in Illinois. Here you go: Search Estate Planning Law Specialists - NAEPC
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:31 PM   #75
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I have been told that my Google Fu is pretty good and I can't find anyone certified or licensed by the state of Illinois. But to be honest, we are talking about our state, Illinois! I looked at Wisconsin and found some lawyers that specialize in, among many other things, Estate Law. When checking their credentials, I was referred to the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils. NAEPC.org. the certification acronym on your business card would be "AEP".

In order to bone of them, "One must be actively licensed or certified as an accountant; attorney; insurance and financial planner; philanthropic advisor; or trust officer – holding one or more of the following designations or degrees in active status and good standing: CAP*, CFA, CFP, ChFC, CLU, CPA, CPWA, CSPG, CTFA, MSFS, and MST"

"an applicant must have completed at least 30 hours of continuing education, 15 of which must have been in estate planning, during the 24 months prior to applying for the designation; active designees must meet this same requirement every two years and certify compliance to the NAEPC on an annual basis."

"one must have been actively practicing for a minimum of 5 years devoting at least 1/3 of one’s professional time to estate planning and estate planning activities in one of the disciplines listed above"

Here's the good one: "an applicant must be highly recommended by three unrelated, credentialed professionals in differing disciplines who have worked collaboratively with the applicant as part of the estate planning team"

from the website, it sounds more like a good-'ol-boy network with some educational requirements. But it seems that this org has no real "licensing" attribute.

edit: It looks like CaliKid also found these guys.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:36 PM   #76
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Very good discussion.

A couple of questions?

1. How do folks deal with real estate under a mortgage. The house was bought under mine name only, not including DW. We don't plan to pay off the house for decades.

2. We don't have anyone we could burden as a trustee. Most of our net worth is POD/TOD accounts like IRA's or taxable brokerage or savings/checking accounts, except for the house and cars. Some folks have mentioned having a bank act as trustee. How is this set up? Need a lawyer? How much does this typically cost (one time cost, yearly)?

I hate this stuff!!! Investing and making $$$ is much more fun.

Thanks in advance!

FB
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:38 PM   #77
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When looking at lawyers.com you look for the "av" rating. That, along with experience, along with focus on estate planning, likely will lead you to a very good attorney. Like most things in life there is not a perfect answer for all. This organization is reputable and they have a certification program. They have some attorneys in Illinois. Here you go: Search Estate Planning Law Specialists - NAEPC
Yes, those are the two I found earlier, and like I said: "But it's not clear how official this certification (designation?) is - info is a little sketchy, is this just a "pay to add initials to your business card" and take 15 hours of "continuous education" a year?"

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I have been told that my Google Fu is pretty good and I can't find anyone certified or licensed by the state of Illinois. ....

from the website, it sounds more like a good-'ol-boy network with some educational requirements. But it seems that this org has no real "licensing" attribute.

edit: It looks like CaliKid also found these guys.
Yes, you got the same feeling I did - sounds more like a "you recommend me, I'll recommend you, now let's get to that 19th hole!".

I'm not getting a warm/fuzzy from any of this.

-ERD50
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:54 PM   #78
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Very good discussion.

A couple of questions?

1. How do folks deal with real estate under a mortgage. The house was bought under mine name only, not including DW. We don't plan to pay off the house for decades.

2. We don't have anyone we could burden as a trustee. Most of our net worth is POD/TOD accounts like IRA's or taxable brokerage or savings/checking accounts, except for the house and cars. Some folks have mentioned having a bank act as trustee. How is this set up? Need a lawyer? How much does this typically cost (one time cost, yearly)?

I hate this stuff!!! Investing and making $$$ is much more fun.

Thanks in advance!

FB
Seems like the only thing the trust cares about is how the house is titled. I don't think mortgage or no mortgage makes a difference. I assume the estate pays off the mortgage as part of settling the estate. If the estate doesn't have enough money, I'd assume the mortgage company would take over the property.

I've heard of numbers like $1200 annual plus 1% of assets under management annually. That could add up if there are minors and age limits of when payouts are made, but otherwise, not so bad, IMO. Probably need to talk specifics with a local bank with a trust department.

-ERD50
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Old 01-04-2018, 05:37 PM   #79
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Sounds good, but I just spent 15 minutes googling, and came up blank.

I'm pretty good with search engines, found plenty of sites that allowed a lawyer search by state, and board certification specialty, but nada, zip.

Did I screw up somehow (how?)? Or is it really that rare, or just not search-able? Seems anyone board certified would want to promote that.

OK, found two lawyers in the entire Chicago area here:

EPLS Introduction - NAEPC

But it's not clear how official this certification (designation?) is - info is a little sketchy, is this just a "pay to add initials to your business card" and take 15 hours of "continuous education" a year?


-ERD50
My local yellow pages (yes the physical book) lists lawyers by speciality. (I get several different books from different companies per year) Note that there are only a total of 7,300 board certified attorneys out of 100k in practice. There also exist web sites that let you search. The attorney my folks used was both board certified and a cpa to boot.
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Old 01-04-2018, 06:03 PM   #80
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I don't know much about attorney's, but when I need a doctor, I ask one of the doctors I work with. I also ask very specifically, who would you actually go to if you had the same condition as I'm describing. I think the way to find a good attorney would be similar. We have a legal staff at work and there's an attorney that lives across the street from me. And, unlike in a medical situation, I would think I could spend a bit more time interviewing prospective attorneys to see how I feel about working with them. In the end, it's a professional service and it is very difficult to parse the wheat from the chaff.
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