Wifey is threatening to kill me if I don't come up with a will for us. It's just a threat, because she wants to die first, so she won't have to clean out my garage.
Are there horror stories about using a self-service, such as Legal Zoom? Any recommendations?
Add a line similar to:
"If any beneficiaries of this will contest the distribution of the assets in any fashion, they then forfeit their portion and will receive no more than $1.00".
In my aunt's trust documents, there was actually a line that just about read as you stated.
No horror stories (because I haven't expired yet)...
I subscribe to the theory that there are some things left to the professionals....surgery, dental work, lawyer "talk" etc.
The T I will work on...worst thing that will happen is that I will have to walk. I'll leave aircraft repairs to the Licensed mechanics, though.
Some folks are reasonable with their charges...some want you to make their mortgage payment for a few months. If you really, really, want it to go "right" - go to a well (highly) recommended person.
Sounds like my brother and me. I told him he's not allowed to die first, because I don't want to have to clean out his house.
Ricks,if you have a bank that you deal with,sometimes they have folks that can advise you as to what to do.
My dad delt with some folks that work with the bank and they helped him draw his up.Estate planning department or something like that.
He seemed happy with the service.
May be something to ask about.
I think a lot depends on how much and how complicated your estate will be and how many heirs you have. Obviously, if you're the surviving spouse and you have only one child, a simple "It all goes to..." may be enough. On the other hand, complex investment portfolios, real estate holdings, etc. and multiple heirs could make it much more complicated, thereby necessitating a lawyer.
Also, for many a revocable living trust works better than a will for the major assets, backed up by a will for the smaller incidentals.
Just my $.02 worth...
My grandfather also had the "no dispute" line in his.
This probably won't apply to you Ralph unless for grandchildren...my wife and I have a notation that each child will only receive 1/3 or their portion at age 25, the second third at 30 and the final payment at 35. This would hopefully let them be stupid if they choose the first and maybe even the second time and by 35 they won't blow it all on new cars and such and possibly be established enough that if they don't have a house they could get into one or invest in a retirement account.
Not that I am worth millions but my children range from 24 to 17 and I wouldn't want them to "loose" a full inheritance at a young age and regret it later.
I just went within the last year with both my parents to have a will drawn up by a local lawyer. He only charged $100 for the will ....yes it had that Poison pill line about anyone contesting the will would only receive $1.
Where the lawyer gets even with estate is at probate time. Then they charge a lot more.
You might ask how much.....
An accurate and professional estate plan is essential. Issues include estate taxes (may increase to 50%+ with the coming tax legislation), real estate transfer and title, and general well being of a family. For those of us in business, either a buy sell agreement or stock redemption agreement with partners is needed to protect loved ones.
Very good documents are available on the internet. However professional advice is needed to determine which ones to use for each situation, how to properly execute them, and last, alternates should matters change. In addition slight changes in estate situations exist from state to state. A California Will may not be appropriate in Arizona. You can prepare an estate plan yourself, and maybe it will be correct, but unlike working on a Model T, you won't have an opportunity to correct the document when it is needed!
The cost of a simple will is nominal. My office charges $150. However, like anything else, the price can increase in direct proportion to the plan complexity and circumstances.
Just my thoughts and I encourage you to consult a local attorney for advice..
Thanks for all the input, guys. I like the no dispute line. There was also the wise man who let one son divide the pie, and the other son choose which half.
Tim, the best laid plans.. I once had several conversations with a guy driving a new Rolls Royce that made his money loaning to heirs on their future winnings. Unfortunately, there are ways around restrictions.
Many years ago I came up with the thought: Those who deserve an inheritance will probably never need it. I haven't found anybody yet to dispute that.
Nothing divides a family like the inheritance. My parents had nothing, so all seven of us brothers and sisters get along great.
Be careful your heirs don't get into a snit and not talk to one another for years. Best to ask each one which things he/she would like to inherit. Then if there are several who want the same thing, figure out a way to allot them and write it out in your papers. Or determine that everything will be auctioned off and all the money divided equally among the heirs.
What my cousins fought over was a hat which was part of our great grandfather's civil war uniform. Now he was also my great grandfather, and they could have given it to me and so they would all be disappointed instead of all but one!
Anyway, You and your wife must decide what will be done with your things. In some cases, the children aren't the least bit interested in the Model T's or other of your prizes, so you will need to decide whether to pass them on or auction them off, or give to a museum etc.
Whatever you do, get it professionally done or it could cost your heirs a lot of money to untangle.
The old man went to see his lawyer, to have him draw up a will. It was a simple matter and didn't take long. The fee was $100. The old man paid with a hundred dollar bill and left. After his client was gone, the lawyer noticed that a couple of bills had stuck together and he had accidentally received $200. This presented him with an ethical dilemma. Should he tell his partner?
Four old men in their late 80's had been friends since childhood. Inevitably, one finally passed away. The remaining three came to the service. As they passed the casket the first laid a $100 bill inside and said, "Just in case you need it". The second did and said the same. The third picked up the two $100 bills and replaced them with a check for $300 saying, "Cash it if you need it".
My friends father died in 2007. the will was contested by his new wife. The courts assigned a public defended to represent the estate. it took 4 years to settle. the only one who made out was the lawyer. The (lawyer) sold everything. The 5 antique cars, cars parts, personel items and the annuities. The family got "nothing" the score was Lawyer 1 Family 0
That makes for a big mess when a older man or woman, say early 70's ,looses a spouse and then picks up another mate.The kids don't consider this johny come lately part of the family but when the woman dies,he walks with everything or she depending on the situation.
Keep the kids in mind.They were part of your life before a possiable future mate.
A situation similar happened to a 70's fellow up the road a piece.His wife died and this gold digger came along.His kids tried to warn him,did no good.She said "get rid of this rusty junk",He did,"remodel this house" He did.His money dwindled.Later she wanted a new car,and a new this and that.His money got low,she got gone.
Now his kids are sitting back saying,"we told ye". Sometimes,not allways,some young folks aint dumb.
Obviously with my parents divorced,mother passed on,my dad single,me the only kid,I will inherit my dads place and stuff.
But I told him in plain english when he started talking wills 3 things.
1,That useless Da-- ski boat and jetski are leaveing here.Both are like new,aint been in the water in 10 years.
2.That dang dodge truck,probably leaving to.I have since punted on that becauce the truck has 260,000 miles on it and still going!
3.If you die with money in your pocket,never haveing something you wanted,it is your own fault.You worked for it,you earned,enjoy it.
After telling him these 3 things I added
"oh and uh,I would be headed straight back to Oklahoma with a much bigger truck this time to convert the boat and jet ski funds to something usefull.Like T parts". He shakes his head and aggrees that is probably what will happen.
You should have a will, powers of attorney, healthcare instructions etc. If you or your wife pass away or become incapacitated without such one or both of you will be in a real mess. I suspect you have a significant estate that would justify the expense of a competent attorney. I don't think this is the area to cut corners. Talk to your friends and associates and find an attorney that can help you for a reasonable fee.
Decades ago my mother made a list of the furniture in their house and who gets what. After they passed the list was lost so my sister and I just divided it up. When the list was finally found the list matched exactly how the furniture was divided. Sometimes parents just know.
I'm writing my will right now while on this sight so here goes, if youre dumb enough to want any of the crap I've got congratulations it's yours. You lose.
I have one kid. I still live in the house she grew up in - a postage stamped sized two story thing built in 1927 with about 700 useable square feet of living space and a woodstove for heat.
I'm an industrial parts salesman.
She is a medical professional living in a modern 4 story, 3000 sq ft home with appliances that talk to each other, built on the side of a hill on 200 acres of second growth forest with horse trails and ponds. The loft over their drive-through, two car garage is almost as big as my house.
Whenever she comes to visit I like to joke, "just think sweetheart, someday this'll all be yours" as I motion to the hovel on my town lot.
My dad was one of the most organized people I have ever known. (In 1962, my dad, my mom, my sister and I went on a vacation by car from St Louis to Seattle to Los Angeles and back home. Before we left, every hotel/motel where we were going to stay on the entire trip was booked and confirmed.) In the years before his death, he started cataloging everything in the house, estimating value, taking photographs, and allocating all of it between my sister and me. After he and my mom had both died, my sister and I divided everything ourselves with no disagreements ("Dad had this on your list, but I'd really like to have it." "Okay."). At least it kept him busy.
A few years after my dad died, my mother had a stroke. What was more important than a will was an absolute power of attorney, followed by a health care directive. From one day to the next, I had to start managing everything in her name and the POA was invaluable. Based on that experience, Anja and I have each signed a POA designating the other, with our daughter as alternate in both cases.
Executor of the Estate should NOT be one of the children. Get an intelligent niece or nephew to do that job. It limits the argument of favoritism among the siblings.
And the above is why you should have some one In The Know do your will. Average price for an average guy? $60 to 100. You'd be surprised to know that there are standard forms to cover most situations and all have room for options you might think of.
Will or no will, the only way to be sure that your stuff ends up going where you want it to go, is to give it away while you're alive and competent. That way, you can take pleasure in watching your kids appreciate their gifts. If you've raised your kids so poorly that they'll just fight over your estate, then they'll all get what they deserve in the end.
You are so right Eric, thats what tends to happen in my family. My grandmother started divvying up what she wanted us to have years before her demise, so we could have, and enjoy it, and she could see that it was going where she wanted it to , and to where it was appreciated!!! Nothing brings out the worst members of a family like a death.
All people are different! What we treasure, is someone's "junk". It is a good idea to find out in advance who would like what, and who doesn't want something. Sometimes when downsizing to a smaller place, heirlooms can be given while we are still living to those who would treasure them.
Other cases such as a marriage late in life, there will be items from two families merging. Not enough room in the house for everything. That is another time to gift or if no one wants an item to sell it or donate it.
A pre-nuptual agreement, along with wills and trusts, can also simplify the division of property upon either divorce or death.
My advice is not always right, but you can't beat the cost.
"Greed" has a nasty part in any situation especially
when its not a family member (blood line) involved in the estate
Leave it all to Chewbaca! Anyone wants to know his decisions, just give him a keyboard
Ralf -- I don't know about Callifunny but in Messachusetts it pays to set up a revocable trust with surviving trustee assignment for the IRA's, stocks, and real estate because it bypasses the probate court. You can out your T into it and even your gold tooth if you want.
Ricks,something I forgot to mention,dont fergit to put that Bird in your will.It will out live most all of us!
I don't have to worry about this stuff too much. My screwed-up family has made certain that I will always be broke and in debt, barely scraping by and only having a few antique cars because I am too stubborn to not have them. Besides, I get much more joy from the cars than any of my family. Most of family work way to hard trying to not get along with anybody. They are already all fighting over stupid nothings so that I don't need to worry about their relationships falling apart over my things.
If I do make out a will, I think I will leave anything of value to the Horseless Carriage club, HCFI, and MTFCA.
I just have to figure out how to get it to them because shipping would probably be more than it is worth.
Drive carefully, and enjoy it while you can! W2
Daniel -- Fantastic way to get even with a kid -
Tell your 3,000 sq ft daughter that when you pass she will have to live in your 700 sq ft home for a year before she can have anything otherwise it will go to her ex boyfriend!
Daniel, that's funny!
Everyone has a little different situation.
Some people have a bunch of kids that think it all should go to them.
Unfortunately greed can get in the way of clear thinking.
Prepare your will in such a way so that your wife or you get ALL of the estate at the event of your or hers death. NOT your kids!!
The biggest mistake is to not have a will at all. You or your wife will have all kinds of #$%^^&*!! if you dont.
You or your wife deserve to dispose of your estate as you see fit and not some court or greedy kids.
Money does strange things to people when they find out that they think they are entitled to some.
Your kids may not be the greedy type but always let your will be the final say so.
Fred, now that's a fine idea...hold the hefty life insurance policy hostage for a year and tell her she has to cut and split her own wood and do the oil changes on the T and T/A and somehow rake up all those maple leaves in the fall after they've gotten rained on, and repair the fences and.....
well I guess that's what she helped me do for the last 4-5 years she was still at home...grin...
This is a great thread that every kid of every age should read - young and old.
It really puts things into perspective.
Thank you guys !
Boy, I keep getting the best ideas from this thread. Hope you are benefitting, too.
I took a course in Personal Law many years ago. One of the points was life insurance should be carried only for a beneficiary who would be hurt monetarily by your death.
Just remember where there is a will there's more then just a way, there's relatives, and it's all relative whether any of them get anything. :-)
Great Thread Ralph!
Or you can do like my dad did. He spent it all, and after his cremation and services, my sister and I got about $1,000 each. He had distributed most of the heirlooms beforehand, and my sister and I had no disagreements or arguments about distributing the other things. He had a simple will which left everything equally to each of us.
So what you need to do, is time your demise to co-incide with spending your last penny. Then you need no will and there will be no probate.
More advice that a financial advisor friend told me, and I'm doing, that I wish my recently deceased mother did:: When kids borrow money, write it down with their signature and put it in the safe deposit box with the will. If not paid off before your death, the IOU will be added, with whatever interest you choose, to the estate total. When the estate is divided, each one gets back his IOU as part of his share of the estate.
I like that Noel! I just cut and pasted that and put it into an email to a long time friend who may benefit from it. Thanks.
On Sunday morning the wife and I were sitting around, quiet and thoughtful, when I said to her,
"If I die before you, I want you to sell all my stuff, right away."
"Now why would you want me to do something like that?" she asked.
"I figure that a woman as fine as you would eventually remarry and I don't want some other asshole using my stuff."
She thought that over for a minute and said, "What makes you think that I'd marry another asshole?"
Oh oh, makes a guy think for a minute.
Ken, Sounds like a Dangerfield moment to me. :-)
When my grandparents died my dad was executor. One sister was probably going to be a problem, as in wanting everything. Dad took every last thing to an auction house. He told them if they wanted something they better bid on it. He said "Let your pocketbook be your guide." He then divided up the proceeds equally among all children. I thought it was a great idea, no one got real crazy at the public auction, and everybody got what they wanted, and someone else took the rest.
I you have a family lawyer or a CPA ask them for a referral. Money well spent to do it right even if you're not in your senior years. It should cover all aspects including your wishes if both you and your spouse went at the same time. Cars to pets to stuff in special hiding places. Then again - if you don't care and don't believe in the after life you won't know. But it is a big help to those you leave behind. It's always a mess if there is no plan. Moreover - do you really want to give it to the government? My 2 cents.
just spend everything now. it'll be easier.
I have just been through hell administering my folks estate. First, the more expensive the law firm, the bigger the mess and ridiculous the fees. You need a good lawyer, but must be sympathetic and well versed in myriad problems. They can give an accurate quote up front as long as you dont hide stuff. It aint like "uncovered conditions" in a restoration project! Make sure they dont "hire" another partner in their own damned firm for expert advice to pad the fees. This is a common and secretive practice, or I should have said lucrative practice. Interview them ad nauseum on their own dime until you are comfortable. The best solution even if incredibly sentimental property or possessions are involved, sell it, then divide the cash. Few can face that, but that is best. Money divides well, rings, necklaces, property and antique cars do not.
I have a friend who is a financial adviser, he tells everybody turn it into cash, but they rarely listen; and he has to listen to horror stories forever afterward. I am no lawyer, but I cannot believe the "no challenge" advice in threads above would hold water. You might scare some one weak off, but a serious contester would beat you on the a...., even if you are six foot under.
Nobody has yet mentioned greedy or unstable spouses of close relatives, etc. But you need to deal with this, in advance, even if a tiny estate. The dear mother of one of my best friends died recently after a long bout with Alzheimers. She had nothing in this physical world, except the best: her two sons knew she loved them and they loved her and they have prospered. They created a touching memorial service and there was just peace and joy. That love was worth more than any money or possessions that everybody fights about. What an incredible legacy. Think about it.
The sad corollary to that is years ago another friend, who was recently married near middle age sadly committed suicide 6 mos after the wedding. The beloved family summer place, of generations, was forced to sale by the 6 mos wife because she wanted her share out and they did not have the cabbage to come to terms to buy her out Think about that! Dont skin the cat on lawyers, but dont let em skin you, it will be a live skinning of many people for sure and it hurts!!
If I cannot bear to auction off my few cars before I tip over, then my will states they will either go to a favorite charity for disposal, or regular auction. If any nephews or nieces or grandchildren who want to fight for em, well the highest bidder wins, fair and square. I make an exception for anyone who truly loves one or another car for its history and will use it and cherish it.
Thats my 2 cents and good luck everybody.
Ralph, Most of the above is good advice but one crucial item is left out: Where are the documents,titles, safe deposit boxes,keys and contents etc. The executor/ administer should be given a list and location of all the above. It can take weeks or months to locate assets without such a list. Also don't burden the layman executor without the help of someone who knows their around the probate court. It can be a nightmare if you don't know the ropes. Probably an attorney. John
Keeping important papers, especially something such as a will, in a safe deposit box is not a very smart thing to do.
Anything your survivors might need to wrap up your estate should never be kept in a safety deposit box.
As my dad got older, he made me an alternate on my parents' safe deposit box. A year or so ago, I added my daughter to ours (which is actually the same box my folks had, come to think of it).
Several years ago,We set up a revocable living trust ,which includes virtually everything we own,power of att over each other,living wills,etc. i also got my mother to set one up. When she passed,we went to the bank and got her documents from safe deposit box,used her checking to pay bills on the house till it sold ,etc. We never had to go to one lawyer nor probate court. Really simplifies things. Especially if you keep the Darn lawyers out of your business.
I should have said one of the central points of planning carefully is to avoid probate court altogether. The example above is great.
On a modest estate of 100k, if it goes to probate, at least in my state the lawyers could skin easily for 5 to 10K. The state and the probate lawyers, the lowest of the low ,make it nearly impossible for a lay person to do probate.
On top of that the process could take 18 months.
I had a small dealing with probate, unfortunately . During estate planning somebody forgot to disclose bonds in a safe deposit box .They can only be cashed with the holders social number unless authorized by the probate court unless you do as suggested below. The lawyer was too dumb to have it on their checklist. When it became public, one of those lowest of the low repeatedly wrote offering to lend money against the probate property
In order to pay estate taxes.
Also depending on laws, I believe some states may require banks to lock off safe deposit boxes on death of the holder unless multiple signatories on it, as in thread above. Check it out. Better off in the hands of a trusted and reasonable lawyer.
Finally, federal bonds and the like. Get them retitled POD payable on death to you or kids etc, that way they avoid probate. Now this is a perfect ethical milestone where a lawyer would rather you did not do that, isn't it? Possibly if you use this in your lawyer interview , you will quickly find out about ethics and if they' really know details of their estate business. As you can tell, I learned some stuff the hard way.
I hope some dope don't bring an action for disclosing trade secrets !!!
Fun, ain't it.
In Missouri you can also title a car TOD (transfer on death). When my dad realized that he only had a matter of months left, he retitled his car with a TOD provision to me.
In Calif, cars titled Joe and Jane require both signatures to register and sell. Joe or Jane requires only one sig to sell.