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Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Wills
By Dramamamma on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 11:17 am:

I've been thinking alot lately about what would happen to my kids if something were to happen to me. B has his dad of course but D would go to my mom.

I'm going to look into making out a will, is one of those home kit type things okay or should I contact an attorney? If so what kind should I talk to?

Any insight on what should be included and tips would be greatly appreciated.

This isn't something "fun" to think about but since D's birth it's been in the back of mind of something needing to be done.

By Colette on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 01:39 pm:

You should definitely do it and include things like power of attorney, a health proxy, etc. I would go with a lawyer so that all your i's are dotted and t's are crossed. There are all kinds of ways you can work the custody, one person can have physical custody and another can be in charge of the child's finances. We had ours done a year ago by a friend of ours who is a lawyer and it was $650, but that was for dh and I both, so you might find it cheaper.

By Enchens on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 02:54 pm:

Definitely something that needs to be done. We've been talking about it, too. In our discussion, I found out I know very little about specific accounts, etc. Tsk, tsk.

I would personally talk to a lawyer who specializes in wills and trusts. I'm sure they'd be better able to tell you what it is that you would need. (I just found out there are several different types of trusts.)

Good luck with all that.

By Tarable on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 02:56 pm:

I have been told that in TX you should have an attorney file it in the courts for it to matter at all anyway (this could be wrong just what a friend told me when she has having hers redone), so you might want to check into that. I also know that if you aren't doing anything too weird some attorneys will let you use them as just someone to file it with the courts and not have to construct the will and you can use one of those kits or whatever to write the will. this way you could possibly save money on writing it and then just have an attorney file it, if that is what needs to be done.

As I said I am not expert on what has to happen just telling you what a friend told me when she was doing hers.

when this is brought up I always think I should do this since everything has changed so much since my will was done (divorced/remarried) but I hate trying to figure out what to do about all of that.

By Cat on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 03:18 pm:

I think my mom did hers with a computer program/generator. Dh and I did ours years ago through the military legal office (it was free for us because he's military). We should probably have it redone though. I don't think Randy was even born yet! lol I imagine you can use a kit to write it up and then either call the courthouse and ask what you need to do to file it--you may not need an attorney. Call and ask. Sorry I'm not too much help. :)

By Ginny~moderator on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 04:03 pm:

Absolutely you need a lawyer. You have custody issues. If D has a living father, that father could claim custody rights unless it is clearly spelled out why not, and the father's parents might also try to come into the mix, depending on the laws in your state. One thing you can do, of course, as Collette pointed out, is name a financial trustee who is not necessarily the physical custodian - that sometimes discourages people who might otherwise want to try to get custody. There are a whole lot of issues to be considered, and laws differ from state to state.

As for "filing with the courts", I don't understand, Tara. The will is not "filed" with the court until after the testator has died, and then it is filed with the Registrar of Wills (or local equivalent thereof), and various legal hoops have to be jumped through. I have handled probate in both Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and it is something any reasonably intelligent person can do unless there are problems.

And yes, if your life circumstances have changed (divorce, remarriage, new child, death of a family member, etc.) you absolutely should make a new will. Not only that, you should check all insurance policies, retirement accounts and other financial accounts. If a new beneficiary is not named after a divorce, the named beneficiary and not the new spouse gets the insurance proceeds. Similarly, if you name your child as a beneficiary and then have another child and don't add that child's name, the second child won't share in the proceeds. The only area in which your current spouse has absolute rights is if you have a 401(k) account and maybe some other pension plans - otherwise it all depends on who you list as beneficiary on insurance and financial accounts.

I am not a fan of using a "kit", even a state-specific kit, unless your life is totally uncomplicated. And if you have dependant children, your life is not uncomplicated. Not only are there guardianship issues, you also need to name a trustee for minor children, unless you want the court to name a trustee (usually a court-connected lawyer, who will be paid a percentage of your estate every year for managing it for your minor child).

By Luvn29 on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 05:01 pm:

Make sure a will will legally take care of your guardianship issues. A lot of times, you need something specific to cover for guardianship, as wills handle belongings.

By Debbie on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 05:29 pm:

Since you have dks and it involves who will get custody of them, you need to use a lawyer. There are lawyers that specialize in wills and estate planning. It is definitely worth the money. You need to think about who will handle the money that is left to them. Will it be the person who is going to get custody, or someone else? You should also have a back up person for each child.

By Dramamamma on Monday, December 1, 2008 - 11:53 pm:

Thank you all. I am going to just go ahead and contact a lawyer after the first of the year.

By Ginny~moderator on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 05:52 am:

When you meet with the lawyer, have all the information the lawyer will need. You'll need names and current addresses of the people who will be named as guardians and trustees. It would be smart to talk to these people ahead of time and have their agreement to take on those roles. Get the names and numbers and contact information for all financial accounts - assets and debts. If you have a sound legal reason why D's father should not get custody, the lawyer will need documentation - this is one area in particular where your lawyer will need you to be completely honest so the lawyer can properly set things up to protect D. If there are family members who might want custody or to be trustees and these are not the people you select, the lawyer needs to know who those people are and your reasons for not selecting them - again, in order to make sure your wishes are carried out.

So start your homework now, to save time when you meet with the lawyer.

By Dramamamma on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 07:22 am:

Thank you Ginny, you've been very helpful. I'll get all my ducks in a row before going to the lawyer.

By Karen~admin on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 - 08:46 am:

Ditto Colette, Ginny, etc.

PARTICULARLY if you have young/younger children - you want to make sure the custody issue is not in question.

DH and I have wills, we both have POA which covers financial and medical, we have a designated executrix, we have our legacy's and specifics of our wills in them, along with the atty's name & contact info. Our retirement accounts/investments are in order, with the beneficiary information/distribution in place.

You really cannot afford to NOT do this. Anything can happen at any time, and you need to be prepared.

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