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DIY Will Recommendations

Home Estate Planning DIY Will Recommendations

  • Avatar MPDO 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 31
    Joined: 01/31/2018

    My dad asked me to help him figure out how to create a will, and I want to see if a DIY product is good enough. His estate is not that complicated, but I do want to make sure all of the important bases are covered (estate, legal POA, medical POA, etc.) I did a cursory search for online products and am thinking about U.S. Legal Forms.

    1. Does anyone have any experience regarding DIY wills? If so, what are the pros/cons.

    2. Is the U.S. Legals Forms product good? If not, any other recommendations?

    Thank you!

    #138156 Reply
    jfoxcpacfp jfoxcpacfp 
    Moderator
    Status: Financial Advisor, Accountant, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 7306
    Joined: 01/09/2016
    • Do you have siblings?
    • Is your mom still living?
    • Any “steps”
    • Large estate ($11+M)?
    • Does his state have an inheritance and/or estate tax?
    • Does he own real estate in any state besides the state of residence?
    • Are there any trusts involved?
    • Does he live in a CP (Community Property) state?

    If you answered yes to any of the above, I would recommend professional help. Otherwise, DIY is probably fine (@Hank may differ, and I would defer to him). I usually recommend Quicken WillMaker, but I don’t know that there is a lot of difference in the various products. Here is a site with reviews for 2018.

    Johanna Fox Turner, CPA, CFP, Fox Wealth Mgmt & Fox CPAs ~ 270-247-0555
    https://fox-cpas.com/for-doctors-only/

    #138179 Reply
    Liked by adventure
    Hank Hank 
    Moderator
    Status: Attorney
    Posts: 1186
    Joined: 03/27/2017

    Ah, the Jolly Testator Who Makes His Own Will!

    There are lots of people who use NOLO or Legal Zoom.  You may not be around to see if this saves money over the long run compared to hiring an experienced trust and estate attorney admitted to practice in your state.

    Even with excellent lawyering and a no-contest clause, it’s still possible to get mired in estate litigation.  The good or ill will of potential beneficiaries under the will is perhaps more important than the quality of the legal documents.

    #138199 Reply
    Liked by ENT Doc
    Avatar PhotonsRGR8 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 96
    Joined: 07/24/2017

    See Johanna reply. If your Dad’s got assets greater than a Mill or any of Johanna’s bullet points your Dad needs some flavor of Trust. Also Wills are Public, Trusts are Private.

    #138311 Reply
    Avatar MPDO 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 31
    Joined: 01/31/2018

    The answer to a couple of those questions is “yes,” so I will talk to my dad about going to an estate planning attorney. I thought that since my parents’ intention is a straightforward 50-50 split of the estate between my brother and I when the time comes, a simple will and POA documents would suffice. It sounds like if they’re not convinced that an estate planning attorney is worth it, either NOLO or Legal Zoom is fine as long as everyone is on the same page.

    Thank you!

    #138426 Reply
    Avatar adventure 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 1117
    Joined: 10/24/2016

    … a attorney is also a 3rd party, which can help (1) teach about the process and (2) be “not you” to guide the process.

    Reading some sample wills before you meet w/ someone is a good way to start learning some terminology before the meetings begin.

    #138904 Reply
    Craigy Craigy 
    Participant
    Status: Spouse
    Posts: 1856
    Joined: 09/16/2016

    At a minimum, you should speak with an attorney just to ensure whatever you execute is actually a valid will in your state.

    LEVEL 1 WCI FORUM MEMBER.

    #138923 Reply
    Avatar AR 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 661
    Joined: 03/10/2016

    I’m a big believer in DIY, but I never saw the point with wills.   Sure, they need occasional updating, but that’s infequent.   So it’s more or less a one time expense, and you can general get a competent estate lawyer to do a good job for a very reasonable price.

    Obviously even if you get some one to do it for you, you should make sure that you read the whole thing and understand it fully.  In your situation, it’s probably straightforward, but they can be extremely complicated.

    I don’t consider my financial situation to be all that complicated with respect to my heirs, but my will is quite complex in order to account for all possibilities and make sure as little as possible is lost to taxes.

    #139044 Reply
    Avatar G 
    Participant
    Status: Physician, Small Business Owner
    Posts: 1450
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    I think it’s cool to go into the attorney’s office with a little education.  My library has Nolo with CDROM.

    #139045 Reply
    Avatar MPDO 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 31
    Joined: 01/31/2018

    All great points. I’ll see what my local library has on the topic, but it sounds like the general consensus is to have an estate planning attorney take care of it.

    In the state where my parents live, which may or may not be the state where they retire, it looks like any estate over $20,000 has to go through the probate process whether there is a will or not. If the assets are held in a trust, then probate can be avoided, but there is the cost of creating the trust and then transferring the assets to it as well as maintaining the trust. The only assets that are likely to be transferred to the trust are two homes and a car; otherwise, the rest has options to list a beneficiary.

    So, I’ll have to find out what is most cost efficient: creating/maintaining a trust potentially for a few decades or going through the probate process with a will. Any additional thoughts are appreciated.

    #139065 Reply
    Hank Hank 
    Moderator
    Status: Attorney
    Posts: 1186
    Joined: 03/27/2017

    While it’s hardly a replacement for comprehensive estate planning, depending on the state you may have options for joint tenency with right of survivorship for the house and a transfer on death title for the cars.

    Hopefully your dad can do enough research on this to feel confident when (if?) he meets with an estate attorney.  A couple of hours reading high-yield material should be good bang for the buck.  100-200+ hours reading or drafting his own will probably isn’t the best use of his time.

    #139262 Reply
    PhysicianOnFIRE PhysicianOnFIRE 
    Moderator
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1504
    Joined: 01/08/2016

    If you’re an employed physician, many hospitals / hospital systems have free or reduced fee legal counsel for common things like wills. We created a will via our employer a few years ago, and I don’t believe we paid a dime.

    So if you are an employee, check with HR to see if you have such a perk.

    Also, in addition to a will (and perhaps a trust), I would consider completing a “Legacy Binder.” I came across one put together by one of my favorite bloggers, a former hedge fund manager, and featured it in today’s post. I’ll be filling mine out shortly. It’s not free, but at the cost of a paperback book, I consider it a bargain.

    40-something anesthesiologist and personal finance blogger @ https://physicianonfire.com [Part of the WCI Network] Find me on Twitter: @physicianonfire

    FIRE. Financial Independence. Retire Early.

    #140759 Reply
    BuckJoffrey BuckJoffrey 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 13
    Joined: 05/17/2018

    A will does not get you out of probate. In my view, the minimum requirement should be a will and living trust. The trust will keep your family from having to deal with the time and expense of probate.

    Wealth Formula Podcast
    https://www.wealthformula.com

    #141146 Reply
    Liked by BuckJoffrey

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