Will - legal zoom or lawyer?

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  #1  
Old 03-03-12, 01:37 PM
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Will - legal zoom or lawyer?

My wife and I are 64. I don;lt have/never had a will - she has an outdated one that leases to her ex-husband. We wnat to get updated wills - I believe fvery simple - I leave all to her she leaves all to me and when we are both gone 50% goes to her biological children from her other marriage and 50% go to my biological children from porev marriage.

Do we need an attorney for this or can we just go to legal zoom? Is an attorney exspensive (we are on a fixed income)

thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 03-03-12, 01:46 PM
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Many lawyers will do simple wills like that for a minimum price. The more assets involved...normally the more it will cost. You might also see if you have a legal aid office that can help for free.

I'm sure legal zoom can do it as well...but I have no idea of the cost.
 
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Old 03-03-12, 01:50 PM
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Don't forget to do a living will as well. Sure makes things easier on loved ones should you become incapacitated beyond your ability to decide for yourself.
 
  #4  
Old 03-04-12, 12:11 AM
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The first thing you should check on is...what your state's laws are regarding spousal deaths and inheritances.
Example:
In the state of Washington, when one spouse dies, the other automatically inherits when there is no will in evidence AND a living will (otherwise referred to as a Sweethearts Will) has no power to change this, despite what other's might think. To put it bluntly, a living will isn't worth the paper it's written on, it's just another way for lawyers to make money, especially in states where the remaining living spouse would automatically inherit anyway because it is NOT by law considered a binding will.
To further emphasize, when my mother died, my step-father inherited ALL despite what their living will stated and he chose NOT to honor what he and my mother agreed upon before she passed on. When questioning the presiding lawyer about this, he said, "It's the law."
There are "will" forms you can purchase and fill out yourselves (one set for each person) but you will still need to have them notarized. As to how much a lawyer might charge...you'd have to ask the lawyer because fees vary.
Good Luck
 
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Old 03-04-12, 04:00 AM
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I'll have to respectfully disagree with eyepal on living wills. They generally have little to do with inheritances. Living wills are designed to carry forward your wishes in the event of incapacitation. Mine does not mention anything about inheritance. My general will takes care of that. Living wills die with the person, as does powers of attorney. If there is no will, then in most instances the estate would go to probate, unless there are state laws that preclude that, as you state in Washington.
 
  #6  
Old 03-04-12, 04:24 AM
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Ya, that's what I thought - a living will just expresses your wishes as to how you want the hospital to handle your care after you are no longer able to tell them yourself.
 
  #7  
Old 03-04-12, 05:53 AM
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My husband and I have a living will and yes, it has nothing to do with the inheritance. It just states if you want doctors to keep you on a machine or not or whether to revive you or not.
Eyepal needs to read up on wills before he/she gives advice.

We had both wills and living wills done by a lawyer and I forget the exact price, but it really wasn't that much.
 
  #8  
Old 03-04-12, 11:47 AM
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Depending on your state of residence, you can prepare a "holographic" will, a completely handwritten will, without the expense of an attorney or other outside source. About half of the states will accept a holographic will to probate, and there are other variations such as number of disinterested witnesses required. In order to be accepted as a holographic will, the entirety must be in the handwriting of the testator/testatrix with no portions being typewritten or by the hand of another person. "As of November 2010, the states that permit holographic wills to probate include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming." - source LegalZoom.com
 
  #9  
Old 03-04-12, 01:45 PM
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I think I even downloaded my living will, which was state specific according to GA codifications. Fill in the blanks, have it witnessed and it is legal, here. When I had my knees replaced, the doctor's first question was about a living will. I had it with me and he seemed relieved since they wouldn't have to go through another hour or so of paperwork and explanations.
For a regular will for inheritance purposes, I believe I would consult an attorney, since each state has different quirks in their laws.
 
  #10  
Old 03-05-12, 11:41 PM
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As stated by chandler: "Living wills are designed to carry forward your wishes in the event of incapacitation."
With all due respect, I think you may have misunderstood the point of my last post. In any case, if you're dead...you're incapcitated, right? In which case "your wishes" written within a "living will" do NOT by law have to be honored by another if there is an existing state law that decrees a spouse automatically inherits. Point being, a living will is not binding in such a case.
As to it having "little to do with inheritances," I would disagree because they generally express what one wishes to happen with their possessions, be it money, homes, vehicles or whatever, in the event of their death. So said, it goes to someone, right? And that's classified as an inheritance.
Not saying this applies to every state or in every living will written but that the state in which it was written may have a law that over-rides a living will.
Example #2: A best friend's husband died of a heart attack. She wasn't aware of the Washington State laws regarding wills and inheritances. As a result, she inherited her husbands portion of all they owned, which is regarded here in view of a marriage as being 50/50 in terms of real property, i.e., home, vehicles, etc. She was then hit with inheritance taxes and all debts pertaining to his death in the immediate (i.e., emergency assistance/funeral expense, etc.) of which she could not afford and had to sell her home in order to satisfy the debt.
Just saying...check your state's law regarding such. Doesn't cost anything to do so and might save a loved one a lot of hassel in the long run.
 
  #11  
Old 03-05-12, 11:51 PM
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Oh, one other thing. Life insurance policies often playing a role in the death of a spouse, the money received is classified as an inheritance. In the prior example given of my mother's death in view of a living will, it was decreed in this same will that her husband would receive 1/4th with the remaining 3/4th's divided amoungst her 3 children. While she was alive, he agreed. When she died, the living will became a mute point and...he kept it all.
 
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Old 03-06-12, 03:18 AM
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As to it having "little to do with inheritances," I would disagree because they generally express what one wishes to happen with their possessions
Good clarification. Again, living wills express nothing regarding possessions. That is the sole purpose of a regular will. Living wills die with the person and, as you said, are moot points, like powers of attorney.
 
  #13  
Old 03-06-12, 04:57 AM
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Eyepal, you still don't understand what a living will is about, as you're spewing out nonsense.
Life insurance is not in the inheritance category because you don't pay taxes on it. As for inheritance taxes, it depends on what state you live in and/or how much inheritance there is. Some states there are none at all, and you only pay federal taxes if the estate is over a million.
I have to ask you to get your facts straight before you continue talking about this.
 
  #14  
Old 03-06-12, 06:32 AM
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The life insurance should have been written with all the beneficiaries spelled out. Every policy I've ever seen you can have multiple beneficiaries.

This from a legal Q&A site...

"Life insurance benefits are not considered an inheritance, as the benefits are passed to a beneficiary outside of probate. Any benefit paid outside the estate to beneficiaries is not subject to either estate or inheritance tax. If no beneficiary is named, the benefits become part of the estate and can be taxed before distribution to heirs."

As said...a living will would have no effect on how the benefit was payed out...only what was in the policy would.

Living wills may express your desires...but once you die...they have no legal power. They are not intended to be used in place of a regular will. Anyone who puts distribution of assets in a living will, either doesn't understand their function, or is being conned by someone.
 

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  #15  
Old 03-06-12, 09:21 AM
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.... and living wills aren't the last word in your health care. My wife's first husband had a living will and was adamant that his leg would not be cut off. He slipped into a coma and the docs wanted to amputate, when she refused to sign the paper, the hospital took them to court and a judge decided to let them amputate. When he came out of the coma and found his leg missing, he stayed mad at the entire family until he died.
 
  #16  
Old 03-06-12, 09:51 AM
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Absolutely true. If they can show that the person can still live a life after a procedure and they are making a choice due to ignorance or lack of information....they can override it. They also normally consider testimony from everyone to show the persons true intent. The fact that he stayed mad means he was still alive...

It's more for things like extraordinary or experimental measures that will just leave you a veg and burden to others, not.."Oh jeez don't hit me with a defibrillator when I'm having a heart attack."
 
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Old 03-06-12, 03:29 PM
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"Oh jeez don't hit me with a defibrillator when I'm having a heart attack."
Wifey does cardioversions at the hospital where she works. But they don't use full joule charge. They are just correcting an irregular heartbeat. Sort of like rebooting.

I remember when I had a chemically induced stress test before knee surgeries...the nurse pushed the IV and it felt like she sat a Powerglide transmission on my chest. It only lasted a few seconds, and I asked her what the heck was that? She said I took you "that" close to a heart attack. I thanked her from the bottom of my......heart?
 
  #18  
Old 03-07-12, 02:35 PM
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Just because state laws can vary so much, I would contact a local attorney versus an internet site.
 
  #19  
Old 03-07-12, 04:31 PM
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chandler: In the case of my parents (mother & step-father) the expressed wishes (mutually agreed upon) in the distribution of their possessions and monies (insurance included) were indeed written up in a living will. Point being, in their case, this is the way their attorney wrote it up. And Yes, I read it because both parents wanted me to know about it since I was made the executor to it...or so they thought. Although I inherited nothing, I was sent a bill for a supposed inheritance, as was my brother who also inherited nothing. Naturally, we inquired about this. Turned out to be a notification sent to all family members that was written in the form of a bill, i.e., a goof up on their part. He told us to disregard it. During this meeting, I asked the attorney why the will was NOT being honored as written and he explained that the will was not binding because of the law here regarding automatic spousal inheritance. To that, I said, "So in essence, it wasn't worth the paper it was written on but you wrote it up anyway and charged them, right?" His answer, "Yeah, well...it's what we lawyers call a Sweetheart Will, it's just something that gives older couples a peace of mind." Perhaps HE's the one who doesn't understand what a living will is? I don't know. All I know is, nothing within that living will was honored.
Shadeladie: I'm not "spewing out nonsense" I'm speaking from facts known. As you said, it depends upon what state one lives in.
Gunguy45: You're right and after they married, she listed him as the prime beneficiary. The thing is, despite him being the listed beneficiary, it was discussed in depth (more times than I care to count lol) by them that this policy (paid for by her) would be divided as decreed in the living will but that's not what happened. Guess she had a little too much in him perhaps?
Seems to me, it would have been a better arrangement for my mother to have stipulated her wishes for how she wanted her life insurance distributed to those she set the policy up with...that is, if such is possible?
I still stand though with regardless of where you live, it'd be wise to check on any laws that might apply and how one might work against or for you in such cases.
And where power of attorney is concerned, I'd always suggest being extremely careful with whom you hand it too. An ex-boyfriend of mine for whom I remained friends with found out he had both a brain tumor and cancer at about the same time. Both required surgery. He gave his ex-wife power of attorney, thinking his children would benefit...leastwise, until he saw the gleem in her eye and how she didn't have his best interest at heart, lol. Sad what some people will do for money, right?
 
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