Author Topic: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal  (Read 3881 times)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« on: November 19, 2014, 04:00:57 PM »
We currently have two preschool-age children and no wills. Mr. FP is going to kick and scream about investing the time and money, but we need them, right?

My new job has a prepaid legal plan which I initially dismissed out of hand. But the benefits lady at orientation said that it was a really good deal if you happen to need a will. The plan costs $189 per year and then simple will preparation (no tax planning) is free.

Is that a good deal? How much have other people paid to have wills done? (We have the usual stuff--a variety of life insurance policies and retirement plans and whatnot.) Have any brave souls gone the do-it-yourself route?

rugorak

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2014, 06:28:28 PM »
I cannot comment on the will cost side of things. But depending on what is included that isn't a bad price for prepaid legal. It is less than what I am paying. Ours has the will and annual updates included. For me the big thing is the traffic court piece. I have only had 2 tickets in 20+ years and the last one wasn't my fault. Guy ran a red light and was speeding (in a school zone) but because I had a stop sign I was required to yield the right of way. Since the cop only showed up when I called he couldn't do anything but see that there was a collision and I had the stop sign. Lame and it was reduced but it would have been so much easier and less of my time.

But as for needing a will, yes! Especially with kids.

GlassStash

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2014, 07:47:37 PM »
Having wills is a must. You don't want to leave the distribution of your estate to the intestacy laws of your state. While generally logical, there may be distributions that you disagree with. In addition, your will allows for specific directions (e.g., naming of guardians for your children).

$189 per year is not a large sum of money to keep lawyers on retainer, especially when the national average is around $300 per hour (varying by state, market, attorney experience, case difficulty, etc.). What does this include? Just a will? Is there a limit to the # of hours you can use an attorney? Is there a limit to specific subject matter? 

The cost of wills varies (again by market, experience of lawyer and sophistication of the will). Lawyers in my firm charge anywhere from $500-1000 per will. More for trusts, which require more planning and leg work. You could end up paying more or less, but it is well worth paying for a quality lawyer. When needed, wills and trusts are incredibly important and mistakes can be catastrophic.

Hope this helps.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 07:17:16 AM »
There is not a limit on number of hours, as far as I know, and it would cover anything else we might need--we haven't needed a lawyer for anything since 2003 when my husband got in an accident, but you never know.

Seems like it would be a good deal for any year in which we know we need something done.

GlassStash

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 07:35:46 AM »
Not a bad deal then. I think of it a lawyer's insurance, so I would approach it like you approach other forms of insurance.

If you do participate, be sure to utilize your lawyer frequently. Constantly update your will, think about a trust, estate plans, power of attorneys, etc. People generally only think of lawyers in the context of litigation, but there are many other areas where a lawyer can be helpful (e.g., purchase of real estate). If I were paying $189 per year, I would have your law firm of choice on speed dial.

MrsPete

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 08:30:52 PM »
For years we had a do-it-yourself will that we got somewhere on the internet.  We thought it was fine, given that we're easy:  We've only been married once (to each other), our children belong to the two of us biologically, and we don't have any unusual circumstances.  We want what most people do:  If one of us dies, the surviving spouse gets 100% of everything.  When the second spouse dies, everything is divided between the children. 

Recently we had a "real will" made, and I realized just how inadequate our old documents had been. 

We did ours through the credit union, and it cost $250 for the two of us to have three documents each:

- A will for him, a will for me
- A power of attorney for him, a power of attorney for me
- A medical power of attorney for him, a medical power of attorney for me

The lawyer with whom we worked asked us a number of questions we couldn't answer -- and not answering was bad.  He prompted us to think about unusual situations, which was good.  We talked in great length about what we'd want to happen to our money and property if we died TODAY, while our kids are still in the "young adult" stage -- he suggested that we put a portion of the money into a trust until the kids were 30 or so, and he talked about how to do that.  He talked about what would happen if BOTH we AND the kids were to die -- we'd want everything divided amongst our nieces of nephew, but we'd never considered that possibility before.  He talked about beneficiaries vs. a person named in the will, and -- at his suggestion -- we made the children beneficiaries on our bank accounts.  He told us to be sure to give copies of our Medical Power of Attorney to our doctors.  And he brought up a number of other items that we had just never considered. 

I feel quite secure with the paperwork we have drawn up now, and we NEVER have to do it again.  It's written so that a surviving spouse wouldn't NEED to re-do the paperwork.  For example, the paperwork goes into what we want to happen if one of our children predeceases us and leaves children, etc., etc., etc.  In reality, the BEST OPTION is that we should re-do the paperwork when we experience a "life change" . . . and, for us, the next "life change" would probably be grandchildren, and that's probably some time away.  The only thing that would FORCE us to redo our paperwork would be death and remarriage -- if a new spouse were involved, it would really have to be redone (for the protection of our children).

My advice:  Go ahead and do it.  I thought my price was good, and yours is better!  You'll feel more secure once it's done. 

However, since you're required to pay BY THE YEAR, I'd say pay it this year . . . do the wills, and then don't renew this benefit next year.

MJB MPLS

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 09:18:16 AM »
Find a good estate lawyer - you can get a will plus binding powers of attorney for under $500. It's a one time expense. I would not pay every year for this - totally unnecessary.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 11:00:42 AM »
Find a good estate lawyer - you can get a will plus binding powers of attorney for under $500. It's a one time expense. I would not pay every year for this - totally unnecessary.

Ah, but the brilliant thing is that we can cancel during the next open enrollment period, so it will only be $189! The other brilliant thing is that it will impose an artificial deadline to make sure that we actually get this done and don't just drag our feet.

MrsPete

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2014, 10:49:24 AM »
Find a good estate lawyer - you can get a will plus binding powers of attorney for under $500. It's a one time expense. I would not pay every year for this - totally unnecessary.

Ah, but the brilliant thing is that we can cancel during the next open enrollment period, so it will only be $189! The other brilliant thing is that it will impose an artificial deadline to make sure that we actually get this done and don't just drag our feet.
The deadline thing is a good point.  We spent about 3-4 months finalizing our wills and powers of attorney -- and going the inexpensive, through-the-credit-union-route, we had no realistic option to make it a whole lot faster:

- I found out the credit union offered this service, mentioned it to my husband.
- The next day we made an appointment, which was ab out a month later.  They asked us to come in with a list of assets, which took a bit of time to make -- and we wanted to ruminate on it a bit to make sure we hadn't missed anything.
- When we went to that first appointment we met with the "pre-lawyer".  That is, the guy who collects information for the lawyer.  He asked good questions that prompted much discussion between the two of us later. 
- The credit union's lawyer comes around to each branch only every so often, so it was about two months 'til we met with the lawyer.  He came in with a preliminary document prepared (using information we gave to the "pre-lawyer"), and we discussed lots of things. 

So don't get the idea that you'll walk in and an hour later have a completed set of documents.  And we were easy -- never married to anyone else, no children with anyone else, no special needs children or siblings. 

Fuzz

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2014, 09:58:22 PM »
I'd be careful about this. When I started my law firm, I did one case as the lawyer hired through one of those prepaid legal plans. As it turned out, I knew the area of law and did a good job for my client--he got a good result.

However, when I finished the matter and the prepaid legal service provider asked to put me on their list, I said no. I didn't think it was a good value/fit for me or the client. The prepaid legal service did very little (like zero) to vet me. You may not get a good lawyer or one that knows very much about wills. You're almost guaranteed to get a lawyer that is making much less than an established lawyer in that area would make. (I'd guess your lawyer would make $200-$400 on a will through a prepaid plan). There is little reason for a "good" lawyer to provide services to a prepaid plan. Of course, YMMV and I don't know anything about your specific plan.

MrsPete sounds like she had a great outcome for $250 through her credit union. I'd look for something like that. I'm reminded of the saying that you can have two (but not three) of the following: quality, price, speed. 

Also, I'd check out http://getyourshittogether.org/

If you're attorney shopping, I'd talk to at least 3 attorneys on the phone before you hire one. No one does this. You should. Get someone on a flat fee. Get someone who listens to you.  Expect $500 to $1000, except if you're in a major city, then maybe a little more. Personally, I wouldn't spend $189 on the prepaid plan route when $500-$1000 will likely get you much better legal documents tailored to your situation.

MrsPete

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2014, 07:22:25 PM »
MrsPete sounds like she had a great outcome for $250 through her credit union. I'd look for something like that. I'm reminded of the saying that you can have two (but not three) of the following: quality, price, speed. 
Yes, I'd point out again:  Credit union.  Our State Employees' Credit Union provides services at a reduced price.  If you qualify for such a place, investigate whether they offer similar services. 

I do agree with your assessment that you can have two of the assets you mentioned; in our case, we didn't have speed -- but since we're relatively young and healthy, speed wasn't essential to us. 

Rezdent

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2014, 08:03:42 PM »
My prepaid plan is ~$85.00 per year.  And for us, well worth it.  Both of us have children from previous marriages, and we got our will, advanced directives plus opened a trust.  It did require 3 trips to the office to finalize everything.
But I've also used them for consulting on a couple other issues - help with a contractor dodging their warranty and a consult about an auto accident insurance issue.
This lawyer also is happy to consult with things that aren't covered under our plan (some real estate stuff).  Overall we've gotten excellent value.
If your situation is such that you would need a one time will, you might possibly be better off going a different route.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2014, 08:19:00 PM »
I actually already signed up for the plan, but feel free to render more opinions for the benefit of lurkers :-). It seemed like a good deal for a will since I don't even know where to start, and if I have to pay for a will, I might at least have the benefit of free consultations for anything else that might come up this year. It's not out of the question that we might even buy a house at the end of the year.

falcondisruptor

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Re: Mustachian will-making/prepaid legal
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2014, 08:34:51 PM »
We have a kid and didn't have a will either.  Recently we did one of those free online ones.  I didn't cancel the free trial, so now I've paid $35, so I'm going to get a copy of any legal document I can find!  In our case we'll probably get friends who are lawyers to be our witnesses, so they can give it a once over too.  One day we'll probably upgrade.  But it's just a relief to move forward and get something.