Author Topic: I need a will. Suggestions?  (Read 3608 times)


  • Walrus Stache
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I need a will. Suggestions?
« on: January 05, 2014, 04:21:49 PM »
Does anyone have a suggestion for a relatively frugal way to create a will for disposition of our assets after death?  What's the anticipated cost range?

Do I need to see a lawyer?  Does it need to be notarized?

Are there online options that are legally sound?


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2014, 04:30:12 PM »
This site may be of great help:


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2014, 04:30:36 PM »
NOLO press has been around forever, if your will is very simple and straightforward I'd try them.

If it's more complex, you may want a lawyer- but first consider consulting a tax attorney about the tax implications of how you leave your money - you could save your heirs a bundle.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2014, 08:55:43 PM »
This seems like one area where a lawyer is a good call.  I hired a local guy to draw one up for me, and he asked me about all sorts of things I hadn't thought about (end of life decisions, for example.)  He also had good suggestions for possible options and pros and cons of different ways of doing things when I was having trouble deciding what to do.  I think all together for the will and healthcare directives/living will it only cost me $250.  He had it drawn up really nice an official looking, and we signed it in a coffee shop and got witnesses there to sign.

Since a will is a legal document, that doesn't seem like much money to get it right.  Beware of gold diggers, though, as a friend recommended a guy who wanted to charge me $2500 for essentially the same work.


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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 07:18:37 AM »
I would suggest a living trust*, rather than (or in addition to, possibly) a will.

*It's not just for rich people trying to avoid taxes, I assure you.
I am a former teacher who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and am now settled with three kids.
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  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 10:49:50 AM »
Talk to a lawyer.  There are flaws in a lot of the free documents, which could cause an expensive problem after you are gone.  They also aren't sufficiently detailed, and often aren't state specific.  For example, what happens in your state if you get divorced and die before you redraw your will (fairly common)?  You have to be careful drafting if you start getting the slightest bit complicated.  For example, my parents want to give a share of the money they have to a charity (and shares to the kids), but the house to be split only between the kids.  The language the charity gave them to put in their will was flawed and would have opened the door for the charity to have rights over the house.  (This was a mistake on their part, not an intentional "oops.")

Best way to be frugal is to have a clear idea of all of your assets and what you want to happen to everything, so you don't take up a lot of the lawyers time when you consult with them (if paying per hour and not a flat rate).  For example, if you have 3 kids, and one dies leaving 2 kids, do you want the grandkids to "step into the shoes" of the kid and take that share?  Get nothing because their parent predeceased you?  Or split it 4 ways (2 kids, 2 grandkids), even if the 2 remaining kids themselves have children?  What happens if your spouse is in the same accident as you and dies after 24 hrs/96 hrs/30 days?  (Some states have specific rules for this.) 

Arebelspy is correct, a trust may be something you'd want to consider.

Regarding notarzing and witnessing - requirements vary by state.  Some states require 2 witnesses, some 3.  Some require that a witness can't be someone receiving something in the will, etc. 

And on today's fun fact from my trusts & estates class by Professor Mann, now husband of my Senator, Elizabeth Warren: Long ago, they used to use kids for the witnessing (the point of a witness is to have them around later to testify about the signing so you want someone young) and they would actually hit them on the head while they were watching the signing to help them remember the moment.  Because of course you remember when you got hit on the head for no reason, when you didn't do anything.

**I am not your lawyer, I am not licensed in your state, and I am not providing legal advice above**


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 11:21:24 AM »
I used LegalZoom a couple years back. It was about $50


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Re: I need a will. Suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2014, 12:47:48 PM »