Friday, August 15, 2008

Wills and estate planning

Heather and I finally got our wills signed and done today. It was a relief as this was something we both felt bad about taking so long to do... especially since we have little kids which may one day depend on our estate. We actually have had two wills done since Anna was born. The first one we used a prepaid legal services which offered a free will, living will, and other documents as part of the sign up. The hope was that you kept the prepaid legal around. Overall we kept the prepaid legal services for 3 months and it cost around $75. An inexpensive estate attorney, from what I saw, would run about $150 for a will. We had the documents, but they were unsigned. Why unsigned? Because we needed three witnesses for these documents which was quite difficult. The closest and easiest notary was the UPS Store around the corner...but the notary there is only available during the weekday and we never did ask two people to go with us to have the three witnesses (generally 2 people working at the UPS Store, meaning one witness and the notary) we needed. Finally, Heather got pregnant again and we stopped thinking about it until Madelyn was born...

When Madelyn was born, we needed a new will that had her in it. So, I took Dave Ramsey's advice and went with U.S. Legal Forms documents. We just went with a basic will at this point since we weren't sure we were going to get it signed based off our last try and decided to spend the least in case we ended up going to a full fledged lawyer so we get the signatures. In one business day I received an email with the U.S. Legal Forms will. For 2 wills, it cost us $25. This was a word document that you had to essentially fill in the blanks on. This document only required two witnesses. Then, after printing them out, Heather and I arranged for one of our friends (important: they cannot be in the will itself) to meet us at the UPS Store today and get it signed. It took approximately 15 minutes at the UPS Store and cost us $10. So, grand total of $35 we have a basic will which chooses who will take care of our kids if we both die and how are estate will be handled. Also, we have the word document that we could update and sign again if something changes.

In the end, the prepaid legal service's will was slightly more complex than the much simpler U.S. Legal Forms one....however it was still one way in nature as we never spoke with anyone but rather just filled out a form. I would probably recommend that for basic needs you use U.S. Legal Forms and for complex needs you get a local lawyer that you can meet with in person.

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