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Writing a Will: Lawyer or No Lawyer?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

1. Do absolutely, positively have to see a lawyer to get the will done?  We only own one house and not too many valuables.  There are no divorces or any other potentially convoluted situations.  I hear some online "experts" say that it's foolish not to use a lawyer...but they're probably lawyers, lol!  I can't tell if this is legitimately important, or more akin to an OB telling you never to have a home birth with a midwife....


2. If we do need a lawyer, any tips on keeping it cheap?  Lawyer fees are pretty scary....


3. If we don't need a lawyer, can you recommend any good software?  If we go this route, should we have a lawyer maybe look it over before we get it notarized?


Also, please share anything else I should know before going through with this, including any personal experience that may be helpful.  TIA! 

post #2 of 12

Have you looked at Legal Zoom? We've used them for a couple of things and have been happy. We even went through the courts with their documents once and had no problems. I'm not sure how well they would work for a complex will, but for a simple one I think they are a good deal. 

post #3 of 12

My friend used legal zoom for his will and said ti was totally slick.  He was trilled.

post #4 of 12

I would recommend also looking into having a living revocable trust with an incapability clause. This will make it so that your inheritors won't have to pay high fees in probate as well as other benefits. Take a look!

post #5 of 12

It's 100% worth getting a lawyer if you have a kid.


My employer offers a pre-paid legal plan for $16 a month. I enrolled this year and that paid for our wills for my husband and me. I recommend everyone to figure out how to pay for it.

post #6 of 12
I did the lawyer route. It was expensive but I feel quite protected having set up guardianships and such for the children.
post #7 of 12

If you have a fairly straight forward will, use an online source to write your will.  We used Legal Zoom and then had it notarized after we signed it.  We don't have a lot of assets and everything was fairly easy and cheap (I think both DH and I paid around $100 for both our wills). 

post #8 of 12

We used a lawyer but I wanted peace of mind with custody issues.  You can most certainly do it yourself, but do take the effort to get it notarized.  The chance of something to you and spouse are ridiculously low, so if you're broke, I wouldn't spend the money.  But, keep in mind, custody is in the hands of the courts and children will go to close family first.  If you're fine w/ that, then do the cheapo will and you'll be fine. 



post #9 of 12

Oh, and my lawyer said the only time he has ever heard of family arguing over custody was when there was lots of money involved!!

post #10 of 12

Just because no one argued over it doesn't mean you child's best interests were served.  I DH and I died without a will I am sure my parents (whom I love dearly) would end up with my kids.  They are very close to my children, but they are also in their late 60 and early 70's and don't have the stamina for raising a 6 and 9 year old.


My brother and his wife are my kids guardians, but there would be trustee for the money.  I think this is good, because my SIL solution to all problems is to throw money at it.  I am sure she would think her house was too little if she had two extra kids in it.  My kids could care less.  Someone that is objective would be useful in this situation.


Also people need to change gaurdian from time to time.  We previously had other family members in this role. And honestly I would change it to my other brother if his life changed (he is currently single and works and travels way too much to single parent two kids) .


We went with a lawyer and it was less than $500 and now we have a contact relationship if we need one.

post #11 of 12

I always always always recommend using a lawyer. Especially ... 

If you want someone who is not immediate family as guardian 

If think there's the slightest chance that anyone might contest anything at all 

If you have really strong feelings and would be upset if a particular wish wasn't carried out


post #12 of 12

I'm pretty sure we used "Family Lawyer" software by Broderbund but I'm not positive.  We also used it for some of our renovation contracts and leases.  But we did our will and some other death-related docs on that and then took that to our lawyer to review.  He looked over all of it and said "this is great--you don't need me!" and didn't even charge us for the session (admittedly, he is the attorney for most of my family and between real estate transactions and business dealings he gets plenty of business from us).


We're so certain there will be fighting about our kids (because of the life insurance payouts that go with them) that we're doing an additional "letter to the judge" from each of us stating very clearly our objection to certain family members having custody or visitation.  huh.gif

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