Estate Planning

Beneficiaries for all of my accounts are already assigned, but what about wills? Who gets the cats? The kids?

Living wills? How do I want my last days handled?

Do I need a lawyer? No lawyer? Is LegalZoom legit? How much should I have to pay for these things?

This thread is for planning ahead for the inevitable, regardless of when it comes.

Searching the forum for a term like “wills” is entirely unfruitful, and there weren’t any relevant results from “estate planning.” Please let me know if there’s another relevant thread!

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I don’t have much in the way of assets at this point in my financial journey, but I understand that it’s good to first have a foundation to build off of.

My greatest concern at this point is a living will (my parents are not to be trusted) and who the heck gets my cats and my plants.

I’ve asked around a bit and have had friends go with LegalZoom (packages? Start at $50?), but I do question the credibility. Lawyers obviously have something to lose by folks using the service, but they also know their subject matter. As far as I’m concerned, if I can’t afford a Uhaul for 220 miles, I likely can’t afford a lawyer.

Any advice? I am in Washington State in the US.

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No advice, but similar issues here. Especially because we have a living child and some frozen embryos we need to account for. And in a pandemic, it seems sensible to address… :grimacing:

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Oof, I’ve read that eggs and embryos on ice can be incredibly tricky depending on the state or country you’re living in.

While it’s been on my mind for a couple of years now, I feel like the pandemic has definitely brought it to the forefront.

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Definitely. A bit of confronting mortality going on right now!

Yeah, I really want to clear it up so either of us is free to use the embryos in the event of one of us dying, and get plans in place in the event of a divorce or something (won’t ever happen, but you know, plan for the worst and all).

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We have a will and POAs, drawn up by a lawyer, but I noticed last time I looked at them that they have our previous address on them. So I am worried they are invalid now. We’re not married and Boyfriend’s dad would be eager to challenge anything that says I have decision making power for Boyfriend.

And ours don’t include our cats either, as we didn’t have them when we drew up the wills. I don’t even have anyone who would take them. It’s in our adoption contract that they go back to the cat cafe where we got them if we are ever unable to take care of them, which, I guess death would qualify?

Yet ANOTHER thing on my list of things I was going to sort out this year but was procrastinating. Sigh.

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My company worked with a company called Legal Shield, they’re basically a legal service you can pay a monthly fee to and they provided a “will kit” which I think also included a healthcare POA and … a regular POA? A third thing, and it was easy to knock out all three together. It was basically a workbook. Then I mailed that off to their office in [major city across the state] and later on I received it back in the mail all official like and got it signed, notarized, and witnessed. I was also able to call them with a question relating to having a special needs kid, the rep who answered the call knew it was above their pay grade so an actual lawyer called me back later that same day and was able to give me a wonderfully thorough answer (that basically we didn’t need the extra thing I was wondering about due to our circumstances, so we were able to keep it simple). They were also able to build in some non-specifics when it was helpful - we had one child at the time but were considering trying for more but it’s not like we had names picked out or a birthday to provide, so the language was written to cover all our potential offspring.

I think they function like gym memberships where they hope people subscribe and just keep paying without actually using the service, but overall I liked my experience with them. If we had had a majorly complicated situation then maybe we would have gone with a lawyer directly (or maybe we would have just continued to put it off for years and years) but they were good for short and sweet deals, which it sounds like your situation is. I’m sure they can address if your state requires notarization and how that would even work now too.

A hard copy is in our house and it has been emailed to the executor (my dad) so it exists in digital form too.

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Some years ago I bought the Suze Orman Ultimate Protection Portfolio. I am not sure if it is even still available now, but it was inexpensive. It is a cd that you bring up whichever papers you want and fill them out. I think I did a will and power of attorney, printed them out and had them notarized. Super simple, no lawyers or anything. I am single with no kids, so everything goes to my nieces and nephew.

And you know… I assume it’s all legal and stuff.

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@Illathrael, in Washington state you can fill out and sign a POLST (Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) – it is easier for medical professionals to follow your wishes on a POLST because you can specify which procedures you do or do not want carried out if you are incapacitated. Includes sections for things like intubation, antibiotics (more for situations like sepsis or other secondary infections if you are already in a coma), liquid nutrition through an IV, etc. You can also defer the decision on specific things. I was told by the palliative care people we spoke with that because it makes the instructions so specific health care providers are more likely to honor it because they don’t have too make as many judgement calls. It does need to be signed off by a physician, but maybe there is a way to do that with a telehealth consult?

@turtlegirl you should check with a legal professional in your state to see if the Suze Orman stuff is legal/appropriate there. Suze’s stuff is often oriented toward the laws in California or New York or Florida and it doesn’t always carry over well to other states where the systems are different – for example she used to harp all the time on how everyone should set up a revokeable trust but in a state like Washington that has pretty relaxed probate laws that is not necessary unless your net work is several million.

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I can do that, thanks. But now I am curious… what does a single, no kids, “nobody will fight anything” will have to be? My family is great and they know my wishes, which is that my nieces and nephew inherit. If I just have a notarized piece of paper is that “enough”? My IRA has the beneficiaries listed, so that is taken care of.

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I would be very specific about everything they are to inherit, and make sure that account information and passwords are set aside at the very least.

I do need to put together a binder of vet, bills, account information. That’s something I could start on right away.

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Thank you, I’ll look into that!

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Is it not enough to say that the 4 of them equally split everything? And here I was thinking I did well to have any papers at all! :grimacing:

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Again, you need to look into your state’s laws.

I think in most places minors cannot inherit directly. So that is one situation where a trust is often necessary. You might be able to get around it by changing the beneficiaries to be their parents, with the instructions that the RMDs be gifted to the children annually (could go to a UTMA account or a 529). I’m not a lawyer so no idea if that is viable or not.

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Thanks again. They are not minors, so that should be helpful.

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This Bad With Money podcast episode is what made me realize I need to make a “hit by a bus” folder, and why I have doing so as one of my 2020 bingo squares (have I done it yet? absolutely not): https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/death-and-money-w-chanel-reynolds/id1144712710?i=1000442011808

Have been planning on working on this at least some this month as part of the April challenge as well.

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Friends and I looked this up due to the rona. Laws here are awkward, but will take less than ideal wills under exceptional circumstances. So I will do something hand written/autographic since I’m simple, and she did video witnesses and mail box pick up with her lawyer(and will resign after rona)

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We’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but our situation is complicated by not knowing our full financial picture due to some lack of communication about trusts and etc already set up. We also would want to set up a trust for Luigi’s expenses because if something were to happen to us, he would go to my parents who don’t have the means to care for him at the level we would.

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Just picking up on this topic now. We got someone recommended through a friend, $600 to write them up for both of us and can be done over zoom. I want something in place before this baby arrives and assume we’ll need to do some minor update once they have. Committing to getting it done by Christmas…

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We got our wills done through a benefit through work. (Legal Zoom type service) It took me through a wizard and had me fill in blanks. Then I had my lawyer friend look at it just to make sure it was up to snuff. He added a line or two just to make sure everything was air tight. Notarizing was a little wonky due to Covid precautions. I was also interested in trustandwill.com as a service.

@Cannibalsox have you done this yet? For my “hit by a bus folder” I purchased and filled out I’m Dead, Now What?

https://tinyurl.com/yyjzugg4

A fire safe is too big of an expense at the moment so I ordered a fire proof document bag to house everything.

https://tinyurl.com/y69uezxr

This had been on my to-do list forever and we just accomplished in August! It took time but I’m so glad it’s done.

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