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Old 08-14-2011, 06:19 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
326 posts, read 674,368 times
Reputation: 178

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Lately those nice thread/posts regarding assets/inheritances reminded me that we really need to set up a will. But ours should be simple, a couple of sentences should cover everything we need in a will, like "The surviving spouse will get everything including real estate, retirement accounts, life insurance, etc., unless specified beneficiary listed for any particular fund. The 2 kids will get 50% each of everything (above stated) if we both die the same time."

If we print this and get it notarized, will it serve as legal paper or do we have a get a lawyer to draft such a simple thing?
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Lakewood OH
21,697 posts, read 23,672,920 times
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Check the laws in your state. In some, you can get the proper forms and make your own will. You will need witness signatures; how many depend upon what the state requires. Read up on do-it-yourslef wills. There is a lot of information on the Internet.

One word of caution, you have to be precise in your wishes. From the distribution you describe, there could be some questions. But using the proper forms should work. If there are paralegal services offered in your area you could contact them for the forms and help in filling them out. But they cannot go to court for you.

I don't think getting it notorized will make it any more legal. But you could check into that with a notary public.

After all is said and done, it wouldn't hurt to get an attorney.
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Verde Valley AZ
8,618 posts, read 9,687,274 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minervah View Post
Check the laws in your state. In some, you can get the proper forms and make your own will. You will need witness signatures; how many depend upon what the state requires. Read up on do-it-yourslef wills. There is a lot of information on the Internet.

One word of caution, you have to be precise in your wishes. From the distribution you describe, there could be some questions. But using the proper forms should work. If there are paralegal services offered in your area you could contact them for the forms and help in filling them out. But they cannot go to court for you.

I don't think getting it notorized will make it any more legal. But you could check into that with a notary public.

After all is said and done, it wouldn't hurt to get an attorney.
You can also buy the forms at any/most big office supply store. I know we have them here. It always helps to have a paralegal look it over and, of course, get it notorized. Just to be on the safe side.
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Florida
2,291 posts, read 4,948,319 times
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Go on line to USLegal, Legal Zoom or some site like that, select your state requirements and fill in the blanks, print the will out, sign it, have it witnessed. It is easy, simple and quick, and will save you at least 1K.

For an easy will, an attorney will do nothing but boiler plate it too.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:59 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,605 posts, read 39,974,527 times
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My recent experiences with lawyers, is that they are losing ground FAST to technology. law, Information, AND relevant advice.

If under $2Million in assets, I would do LOTS of state / local research and do my own will or trust (If you are quite competent and KNOW state laws / regulations).

Otherwise SHOP and get referrals with price / tangible documents of referral, and SPECIFIC 'value-added' content from lawyer. (Should be $500 - $800 for simple wil, $1200 - $1500 for 'trust').

Be sure and stagger payouts / inheritance to kids / adult children. stuff happens (substance abuse, bankruptcies, liability claims, divorce, health...)
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Old 08-15-2011, 02:24 AM
 
71,643 posts, read 71,777,271 times
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its worth every penny for a lawyer. i had a refinancing stopped on an inherited property because it read i leave my daughter beth my house and all possesions.

it was missing the word "ONLY " as in only child beth ..

what a fiasco , i had to pay the bank attorney,the title company,the co-op attorney all for the day. lost my interest rate and had to reschedule after affidavidts were filled out.

i can give you quite a few issues we ran into.

remember with wills nothing is a problem until its a problem. by the time you know its to late

as i learned when i gave up trying to get a lawyer to just read my will kit will there is alot more to it than just comes in the kit and getting the number of witnesses.

as i mentioned earlier the first thing the lawyer asked us was a barage of questions in front of the witnesses .

questions pertaining to medications we are on, drugs, being pressured to sign, do we know what it is we are even signing.

to me they were just silly questions but the truth is in a 2nd marriage these silly non required questions are closing a lot of loopholes for kids from different parents to contest things.

there is so much in fine detail that was added that it really is silly to play with these kits on your own.

as happened to us at the closing i mentioned above it cost us thousands,all because someone wanted to save a few bucks on the will and that word "only" was omitted in the canned will..

its hard enough to get wills correct when lawyers in the business do them,the odds of most of us not having a defect in a canned one out of a kit is slim.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:59 AM
 
5,822 posts, read 13,321,007 times
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I agree with Mathjak. Although the Will is simple, better to be safe. Kids marry, divorce, have children, etc. Some kids are great, others aren't. Money does strange things to families. Recent friend passed away, two grown children who WERE close...not anymore. One is contesting the Will because significant $$ given to her in last two years is being deducted from her share.

Additionally, you should consider Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will and General Power of Attorney. We also had any property put into a Trust.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:06 AM
 
Location: Lexington, SC
4,281 posts, read 10,741,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellwood View Post
I agree with Mathjak. Although the Will is simple, better to be safe. Kids marry, divorce, have children, etc. Some kids are great, others aren't. Money does strange things to families. Recent friend passed away, two grown children who WERE close...not anymore. One is contesting the Will because significant $$ given to her in last two years is being deducted from her share.

Additionally, you should consider Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will and General Power of Attorney. We also had any property put into a Trust.

We just had all of the above done by our attorney for about $600.00. Once I saw what was involved and the alternatives/possibilites if not done properly/legally, the money was well spent.
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:37 AM
 
9,198 posts, read 9,278,507 times
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I am an attorney and let me tell you that if your goal in life is to avoid unnecessary expense than having an attorney prepare a Will is the way to go. We lawyers frequently sigh and shake our heads at all the legal work that comes to us because someone thought they were very "very bright" and tried to prepare a legal document on their own. Lawyers don't make the law difficult on purpose. We simply "take things as they are". The reality is that even something as simple as a Will can be botched.

When my mother needed a Will not only did a lawyer prepare it, I paid $750 myself to have another lawyer do it for her. That ought to tell you something.

People who suggest you use computer programs like "Family Lawyer" or that you go to some computer website are giving you bad advice. None of these programs are perfect. They have to be constantly updated and you have no idea who actually prepared the forms or material on the website. The task of making forms letter perfect for all fifty states is a monumental one. I can virtually guarantee you that mistakes have been made.

Before you prepare a Will you should understand there are differences between a Formal Will and a Holographic Will. Both may have completely different requirements in order to become effective. It may be that you would be better served by setting up a Trust rather than a Will. The issue of updating a Will needs to be considered as well. If you have a business relationship with an attorney who has already drafted the first will, making changes is going to be easier. You may have a joint Will and your spouse may predecease you. Perhaps, the financial situation of your children may change and you may want to give them different bequests in your Will.

Don't be pennywise and pound foolish. Spend the time to search out a competent probate lawyer in your area. If you don't know of one, talk to the trust department in a local bank. They almost always know someone who is expert in that field who is local.

Last edited by markg91359; 08-15-2011 at 10:00 AM..
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Old 08-15-2011, 10:30 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
326 posts, read 674,368 times
Reputation: 178
Thank you all very much for the wealth of information!

It looks like that we should get an attorney - besides the normal obstacles people encounter doing their own will, we have added difficulties of not being familiar with the laws of the country/state.

Also, come to think about it, even though we do not have a lot (certainly not 2 million), a good will can still make a big difference for the kidsí lives. I'd certainly like to add some clauses for the kids to get something before/if the survival spouse were to marry again, as some of you mentioned.

Thank you again for all your posts. Without knowing much about the laws, I tended to simplify my thinking. But I am so glad this board is here and can not thank you enough for taking your time and providing me great information and suggestions!
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