Author Topic: Mustachian options for a simple will  (Read 846 times)

sgonsalv

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Mustachian options for a simple will
« on: October 27, 2017, 04:19:26 PM »
Hi folks,

My wife recently delivered our first child.  We'd like to have a simple will drawn up that will specify 2 things...  first, that all the $$$ goes to him of course, and second, we have a very specific order of relatives we would want to take over as his legal guardian.  Any recommendations for reliable but not-too-spendy services that can take care of this for us?

englishteacheralex

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2017, 05:28:20 PM »
Can't figure this out for the life of me. Called two estate lawyers and both said there's no point in having a will because the state laws will just figure it all out.

We have two kids, a 3 year old and a 10 month old. We own a condo. $125k in 401ks. Both of us have life insurance. Is it dumb to spend $1000 on a will?
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brycedoula

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2017, 09:10:29 PM »
We had a lawyer write up a fairly basic will for us a few months after our daughter was born. Nothing fancy, as we don’t have complicated finances or a business. Total cost was $300-ish CAD.

Is it “dumb” to spend $1000 on a will? Probably, as that seems like an incredibly high price. Is it “dumb” to have a will, in the extremely tragic event that you & your wife both die @ the same time & leave your children orphans? Of course not.

If you don’t specify who you want to look after your minor children, then a judge decides. It’s generally with the child[ren]’s best interest in mind, but it might not be your #1 choice.

Find a local family law practise that doesn’t have big, fancy offices downtown - no need for you to subsidize that kind of rent. Are there any law offices around the edge of your neighbourhood?

Freedomin5

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2017, 09:10:57 PM »
Wow...I would keep searching for a good family lawyer. We had our first kid a few years ago, and the first thing we did was get our wills done as well as a Power of Attorney and a Personal Health directive. We thought it would be simple, but it's really not as simple as you think, and a good family lawyer whose been around the block a few times will flag all the potential pitfalls and make sure your will is as foolproof as it can be.

For example, our lawyer asked us a bunch of questions when drafting our will, like:

What if something happens to you before your child reaches the age of majority? Do you really want to suddenly be giving your 14 year old son 8 million dollars to spend as he likes? 14 year olds are not generally known to have great executive functioning skills.
Do you want to give all the money in one lump sum, or give an annual sum? Do you want your child's guardian and the estate executor to be the same person?
What happens if you divorce?
What happens if one of you has a child out of wedlock?
What happens if you adopt?
When does your child get control of his money instead of his guardian? (Of course, you can redraw your will once he reaches an age where you would be comfortable having him handle his own financial affairs)

There are a lot more questions she asked that I can't remember. All I remember was that we were in her office for over an hour while she asked us question after question. Ask your friends/relatives for recommendations and get one done properly. For us, it was not worth it to potentially jeopardize our child's financial safety and care in our absence, just to save a few bucks. I think it cost around CAD $400 (in Toronto) for all of the documents for both my spouse and I. We have a copy, our lawyer has a copy, and the potential legal guardian has a copy.

Edited to add:

Find a lawyer who is from your state/province instead of one of those online, national companies. Each province/state may have slightly different rules, and you want to make sure that your will is problem-free in the state in which you reside.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 09:14:08 PM by Freedomin5 »

SimpleCycle

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 07:29:26 AM »
The most mustachian option, in my opinion, is to pay whatever the going rate is for someone to do a good job.  It is not the cost minimizing option, but it offers the most protection for your family.

I'll share the two experiences I have with this.

First, when my dad was in his early 60s, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  We went to a family lawyer (she was also a family friend) who helped my parents put together wills, but also helped guide us in how to avoid probate.  Since everything was going to my mom, most of this was making sure the beneficiary designations were correct, that all titled property also had my mom on the title, and then a simple will to cover anything that wasn't covered by that.  In the end the entire estate passed to my mother without opening probate, which was a blessing considering she was dealing with losing her spouse and didn't need a year of assets being tied up in court.  Cost was $500 in LCOL ten years ago.

Second, for our own wills, our concerns were very similar.  We have two children and designated guardians (including in our case, non-family guardians over our siblings).  Our family lawyer set up wills and a simple trust in the event that our relatively substantial assets need to be used for the care of our children and eventually passed down to them.  It was not something I would have remotely been able to do on my own.  It cost $1500 a year ago.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2017, 04:23:42 PM »
Congratulations on your new little one!  Very exciting time for you.  I have some thoughts.

Disclaimer:  I am a trusts and estates attorney, practicing in Florida (used to practice in NY & NJ).

First, look for an estate planning attorney in your geographic area who does this for a living.  That is not the same thing (usually) as a family law attorney.  And it's not the same as a GP or a litigator or a car accident attorney.  And it's not the same as a "friend" who "does you a favor" but who does not practice in this area.  I've probated estates where the Will was drafted by an attorney--and they were terrible because the attorney was not an estate planning attorney.  And local law matters here.  Don't buy a national product that does not meet your local needs.  Waste of money and time. 

Second, talk to a couple of attorneys and choose one you get along with and who takes the time to answer your questions and tell you the answers to questions you have not even considered.  The problem most people have is that they don't know what it is that they don't know.  So often I've heard people say that they want something "simple," when in reality, what they want is simply what they want.  That doesn't make it "simple."  And it doesn't make it cheap.  They focus on the wrong things (a mile-long list of potential guardians and a long list of exact amounts those guardians should spend or not spend on a car or trips for their future teenager) or things that are so unlikely to happen ("what if we both die in a plane crash?") while ignoring the actual simple things that they can do to "put their house in order" so to speak (name proper beneficiaries on contract products, title assets correctly now, name an executor/personal representative/trustee in their documents).

Third, expect to pay for the initial consultation.  I charge for my initial consult because I give a LOT of education to the client in that meeting, and it has real value.  I can save you lots of money and hassle and time.  I can't save you grief.  And I credit my initial fee towards a flat fee plan if the prospective client hires me, so it's not "wasted" if you decide to proceed with me.  (It's also not wasted if you don't hire me, because I guarantee you I give a lot of information in that meeting.)  Look for someone like that.
 Someone who does not charge for the initial consultation, at least in my geographic area and area of practice, does not have enough business already.  I have more than enough work as it is, and I have no interest in trolling for new clients who are not ready to deal with this yet (that includes paying for it).  That said, the initial consult should be between $100-500--there's no need to pay more than that up front.

Fourth, yes, your state/province has laws about what should happen to your assets if you die intestate.  You might not like those laws.  But at least there is something on the books.

Fifth, don't name minors as potential beneficiaries on contract products (life insurance, retirement accounts, etc).  A 14 year old cannot legally own anything, so anything left to her would have to go through a guardianship, which costs more to set up than a proper estate plan in many jurisdictions.

iowajes

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2017, 04:30:39 PM »
I can elect metlaw as part of my annual benefits. The total cost for the year was less than what I was quoted for wills.

My husband and I had wills made, designated the conditions of a trust, a power of attorney for medical and a power of attorney for financial.  We also made sure all our insurance pays to the estate instead of our daughter.  To the estate, our designee controls it. To our daughter, the state takes control of the trust.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2017, 05:44:27 AM »
Wow...I would keep searching for a good family lawyer. We had our first kid a few years ago, and the first thing we did was get our wills done as well as a Power of Attorney and a Personal Health directive. We thought it would be simple, but it's really not as simple as you think, and a good family lawyer whose been around the block a few times will flag all the potential pitfalls and make sure your will is as foolproof as it can be.

For example, our lawyer asked us a bunch of questions when drafting our will, like:

What if something happens to you before your child reaches the age of majority? Do you really want to suddenly be giving your 14 year old son 8 million dollars to spend as he likes? 14 year olds are not generally known to have great executive functioning skills.
Do you want to give all the money in one lump sum, or give an annual sum? Do you want your child's guardian and the estate executor to be the same person?
What happens if you divorce?
What happens if one of you has a child out of wedlock?
What happens if you adopt?
When does your child get control of his money instead of his guardian? (Of course, you can redraw your will once he reaches an age where you would be comfortable having him handle his own financial affairs)

There are a lot more questions she asked that I can't remember. All I remember was that we were in her office for over an hour while she asked us question after question. Ask your friends/relatives for recommendations and get one done properly. For us, it was not worth it to potentially jeopardize our child's financial safety and care in our absence, just to save a few bucks. I think it cost around CAD $400 (in Toronto) for all of the documents for both my spouse and I. We have a copy, our lawyer has a copy, and the potential legal guardian has a copy.

Edited to add:

Find a lawyer who is from your state/province instead of one of those online, national companies. Each province/state may have slightly different rules, and you want to make sure that your will is problem-free in the state in which you reside.

+1

We spent $1250 for all the docs above. The process and time spent was about the same as above. As the attorney mentioned wanting simple doesn't mean it is simple. Maybe you're thinking that it would be easy because you don't have a lot of bequests to individual people and things like that but the majority of what the will covered was ensuring that our kids were taken care of properly.

This is an area where you don't want to step over a dollar to pick up a dime.




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bognish

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2017, 11:47:32 AM »
Question for TVRodriguez since you seem to be in the business. I am looking to do something similar to what the OP is asking: 2 small kids. Want to set up will, trusts, and guardianship in case wife and I die. We did the initial meeting with an estate lawyer who suggested moving house & investments into a trust now instead of kids trust inheriting them if needed. If i spend $1-3k now on an estate plan & trust set up how complex is it to execute when need be. Will the guardian have to spend another $5k on lawyers to deal with involved trusts? From what I understand probate is slow, but simple in my state (UT).

thedigitalone

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2017, 12:29:53 PM »
Anyone have a referral for an estate planning attorney in the Seattle area?  We've been remiss in getting all this in place as well.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2017, 09:19:15 PM »
Question for TVRodriguez since you seem to be in the business. I am looking to do something similar to what the OP is asking: 2 small kids. Want to set up will, trusts, and guardianship in case wife and I die. We did the initial meeting with an estate lawyer who suggested moving house & investments into a trust now instead of kids trust inheriting them if needed. If i spend $1-3k now on an estate plan & trust set up how complex is it to execute when need be. Will the guardian have to spend another $5k on lawyers to deal with involved trusts? From what I understand probate is slow, but simple in my state (UT).

I don't know diddly squat about Utah probate, but if there are minor children then a guardianship will be required and will cost something to establish regardless of whether you have a proper estate plan in place or not.  But it's still worthwhile to set up a plan for a host of reasons.  Putting your assets in trust now is something I do for individually owned assets or after the first spouse dies, not for jointly owned assets. I prefer to have a revocable trust for each spouse and a pour over will for each.  But back to you: ask the lawyer these questions that you've asked me. The answer depends on local law and practice. If you don't trust or like that lawyer, then set up a consultation with a different one and ask them.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2017, 09:24:33 PM »
Anyone have a referral for an estate planning attorney in the Seattle area?  We've been remiss in getting all this in place as well.

Nope. But check with the state bar and see if there is an estate planning attorney in your area who is part of the probate and trust section of the state bar. Check Martindale Hubbell online for AV rated EP lawyers in your area. Check avvo.com.  Ask around. Ask your CPA if you have one. Ask your banker if you have one. Ask your insurance agent if you have one. Ask a development officer of a local non profit. These are the types of professionals who run in similar circles. I would say ask your financial planner if you have one but my presumption on these boards is that no one has one.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2017, 09:30:45 PM »
I can elect metlaw as part of my annual benefits. The total cost for the year was less than what I was quoted for wills.

My husband and I had wills made, designated the conditions of a trust, a power of attorney for medical and a power of attorney for financial.  We also made sure all our insurance pays to the estate instead of our daughter.  To the estate, our designee controls it. To our daughter, the state takes control of the trust.

Okay I don't practice in your state (I'm guessing that's Iowa; correct me if I'm wrong), but in my state I would never name an estate as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. I would name the trustee of the kids trust, subject to the terms of the trust established for the children under the will or the parent's trust. One of the benefits of life insurance is that the proceeds pay out quickly and directly and are outside of the probate process. Paying over to the estate can not only delay payment but can also (depending on state law) possibly subject the proceeds to claims from creditors of the estate.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2017, 09:41:40 AM by TVRodriguez »

Chesleygirl

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2017, 10:11:44 PM »
I think (if I remember correctly) it cost about $300 to get my will drafted by a lawyer.

bognish

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Re: Mustachian options for a simple will
« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2017, 12:15:33 PM »
Thanks TV. We are asking around and inquiring with multiple lawyers. Its hard to evaluate how hard it will be for someone (aka guardian/executor) to navigate through these documents once I am dead. Sometimes a fancy gimmic to save some taxes isn't worth it if my sister has to deal with finding a lawyer to navigate/execute or defend it.