Author Topic: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?  (Read 2594 times)

ElTopo

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Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« on: September 14, 2016, 11:39:56 AM »
Hello- as a final step of taking control of my finances I am looking to have my will prepared. I'm in my late 30's, own no property, own little of value (mostly just music and camera equipment) but have a decent amount in savings/index funds.

Can someone recommend an affordable way to create a will? I know I will need a lawyer, what should I expect to spend?

I'm in San Francisco and contacted a lawyer whose estimate was $2000 (for two one-hour office visits!!!) That seems ridiculous to me.

Thanks!

MKinVA

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2016, 11:56:08 AM »
I would suggest finding out what the law does with your property if you don't have a will. You need a will to protect minor children, to account for a second marriage where things should go to children of first marriage; leave things to specific charities, etc. If you don't have a complicated financial life, and the law says everything goes to your next of kin (spouse, brother, parents), then you probably don't need a will. In most states, the law is pretty appropriate for most of us non-trust fund kids.

ElTopo

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2016, 12:04:05 PM »
Thanks. It certainly shouldn't be complicated, however besides next of kin I would like to leave some money to friends and various charities.

MKinVA

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2016, 12:22:09 PM »
Well, it shouldn't cost a ton. Wills are pretty simple documents. Here on the east coast you see ads for simple wills for a couple of hundred dollars. Complicated wills are wills that may be contested and usually involve trusts and staggered distribution. Or check Bob Shapiro's cite LegalZoom. You can do your own and they offer help. I have heard good things about it for wills.

Dee18

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2016, 07:05:45 PM »
For all of your savings/index funds you can simply name beneficiaries for each account. 

marty998

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2016, 02:21:06 AM »
For all of your savings/index funds you can simply name beneficiaries for each account. 

That can still be contested in court I think... you would want to make sure that the nomination is legally sound through a proper will...?

Capsu78

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2016, 09:18:14 AM »
"I'm in San Francisco and contacted a lawyer whose estimate was $2000 (for two one-hour office visits!!!) That seems ridiculous to me."

Those marble floors in the reception area don't wax themselves!

You seem to have no real complicated issues so I would consider finding someone with lower overheads... and I think the will portion may be less important for you than the usual companion documents: healthcare directives and power of attorney in case you become incapacitated.

sisto

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2016, 09:24:33 AM »
Does your employer offer a legal plan. Mine offers Hyatt legal which costs $10/mo. I signed up and had a living trust done. Total cost out of pocket was $24, but that was because it didn't cover the transfer fee for moving my deed into the trust. If you have that option open enrollment is coming soon and you could sign up for a year get it done and not sign up again next time. If you don't have that option legal zoom seems to be a good option for you.

Dee18

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2016, 10:38:29 AM »
Anything can be contested in court.   I teach at a U.S. university and I just double checked with our Trusts and Estates professor at the law school who said the beneficiary designation (such as with Vanguard, etc. ) controls.  The only way there could possibly be an issue is if the will explicitly stated that particular account was to go elsewhere.  The professor said that even then the beneficiary designation would prevail under current law.

Giro

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2016, 10:43:56 AM »
Anything can be contested in court.   I teach at a U.S. university and I just double checked with our Trusts and Estates professor at the law school who said the beneficiary designation (such as with Vanguard, etc. ) controls.  The only way there could possibly be an issue is if the will explicitly stated that particular account was to go elsewhere.  The professor said that even then the beneficiary designation would prevail under current law.

This is what our attorney told us when we did our will a few months ago.  Beneficiary designations hold more clout than a will. 

Jrr85

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2016, 11:17:06 AM »
Anything can be contested in court.   I teach at a U.S. university and I just double checked with our Trusts and Estates professor at the law school who said the beneficiary designation (such as with Vanguard, etc. ) controls.  The only way there could possibly be an issue is if the will explicitly stated that particular account was to go elsewhere.  The professor said that even then the beneficiary designation would prevail under current law.

This is going to be state specific.  In my state, it's not so easy for non-retirement accounts to pass outside of probate.  For insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, etc. a beneficiary is fine.  A bank account it would not be.  Not positive about a non-retirement brokerage account but I think it will have to pass through probate.  The reason I think this is that it will be subject to creditors, which means it's going to have to be declared as part of the estate.

firepath

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2016, 03:43:40 PM »
Ask for a couple more quotes.  Ask your friends, neighbors and coworkers for a referral to a lawyer they used to prepare a will.   Call the state bar lawyer referral service and ask for low-fee estate planing attorney.   I'd hire the lawyer but you can probably find someone competent who will charge less.

cchrissyy

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Re: Affordable Will and Estate Planning? Lawyer estimates?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2016, 04:02:37 PM »
In your case, I'd probably just name beneficiaries on my various bank and investment accounts. You don't need a will for that.

Then, I'd figure out who I wanted to make health and money decisions for me if I was unconscious

If the SF lawyers are too much, look further out of town where rates are lower. This will be state law, not city or county specific.