PSP members share advice about getting a will after having a baby.
Disclaimer: This post has been written for educational purposes only by Park Slope Parents and was not meant to be legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice or be relied upon. The post may contain errors, inaccuracies and/or omissions. You should always consult an attorney admitted to practice in your jurisdiction for specific advice.
As the original poster summarized, "hi everyone, thanks so much for those who got back to me on my question about preparing a will post-baby. Sounds like getting a lawyer is the best."
"As an attorney, I would HIGHLY suggest that you use an attorney for this. (I promise I am not fishing for business) There are mutliple reasons for doing so: Legalzoom and off line templates may be fine for getting started--but there is no guarantees with these boilerplates (believe me, I have actually seen serious consequences from this.) In the event there is ever a question as to validity with a will prepared by an attorney with his client, in the event you are dead, your attorney can provide clarification of the issue acceptable for any court-- this won't work with LegalZoom.
My suggestion (if money is the issue, and it sounds like it is) is to use a template from online and fill in all of your information-- then ask an attorney to review what you have done. This will mean the attorney will spend less time on it (as they charge by the hour). You do all the ground work, and then let them address any holes in your work and revise accordingly-- along with answer any outstanding questions you may have. When you go to the attorney to bring them your draft will, ask them for a quote up front (i.e. how much will you charge me to review and update my will?) Usually you can bargain a flat rate (instead of hourly). Figure out how much you are willing to spend first, and then go from there. The consequences of drafting an invalid will are serious--- instead of your child receiving everything part of your estate could end up with the State.
Moreover, if you die while your child is still a minor, and your will does not adquately address guardianship in the manner prescribed by law, you could leave your child in limbo. Finally, do yourself and your child a big
favor-- make sure your will has a "living will" provision which addresses how to deal with a situation where you or your husband (or both of you) are on life support."
"It is a good idea to have a will when you have a baby. We used Legal Zoom when we had our first but when we had our second and then went to an attorney, he pointed out a whole bunch of flaws with the Legal Zoom document. (for example, it didn't say that the Will should be fit for current and subsequent children, which is apparently standard language.) So I think if you're going to do it, you should go to an attorney. We used a family member as our lawyer, so I'm afraid I don't have any recommendations, but I bet PSP would be a good source for finding someone not too expensive."
"We decided to get a Family Trust instead of a will because even if you have a will it might not be enforced and because so many people can get their hands on your money. A will is not protected. So for example; if you leave all your money to your child, someone could show up and say you owe them money, then the court could have them paid. However, if you have a trust since it is a legal entity if the person says you owned them money they cannot get it because your money is actually The Trust Money...there is a lot more to this...also a Trust can save your spouse thousands of dollars in estate taxes, so that might amount to half of your money going to estate taxes, but the Trust protects that.
Usually, within a trust exists another trust so you have Trust A and Trust B (legalese), so if you have many assets such a real estate, plus saved money in retirement the gov can tax your trust a ton, but if that money is split, then they can only tax you on each amount rather then the aggregate which might put it into a higher tax bracket--hope this is making sense...
You have to change over all your savings, checking, retirement accounts to the trust name. And everything $$$ goes into it. I even have my small business corp owned by the out Trust. However, I read that you shouldn't put your life insurance into the trust if your intention is for it to go to your spouse because it is taxed heavier in the trust...read that in Smart Couple Finish Rich by Bach. He also talks about trusts and wills etc. Was very helpful for us.
Then as for you Will, it goes in the trust so things like you wishes, to be buried or creamated, if you do or do not want extradinary life saving measures, a poem you want read to your child etc...
Because this is a little complicated, we went to a lawyer."
"I forwarded the responses to my husband, a corporate lawyer, and here's what he said:
If you are thinking about using an online will, that probably means that your estate isn't particularly complicated. That is a good thing and also why, when we do our wills this weekend (thanks for the reminder!) we are also going to use a lightly massaged version of an online will. With a basic Last Will and Testament form that you can get online or buy at Barnes & Noble, you can create a document for under $10. (These, for example, almost certainly cover our needs:
You don't need a lawyer to create a binding Will; you need a document signed by the testator, two signing witnesses and a Notary to witness the signatures. You don't even actually need a notary but it makes things easier later because the Notary substitutes for the need to have the witnesses produce affidavits for probate.
Creating a trust as suggested by "xxxxx" is not merely a way of managing your assets after your death, it creates a quasi-corporation that owns them in life. While I wish divorce on nobody, creating of a trust for assets now would certainly complicate things in the event of a divorce. The establishment and dissolution of a trust are not nearly as simple or inexpensive as signing a will. The idea that the estate will be hit by a false claim that depletes the assets is probably the product of fear mongering books or too many soap opera plot twists. There are tax advantages to trusts for certain estates (the Bush administration's obsession with the "death tax" considerably lowered estate taxes) but if you are thinking about
going the trust route, you definitely need to consult your own lawyer, not PSP. Any legitimate debts accrued by the trust on behalf of its beneficiaries would have to be paid upon dissolution, just as an estate has to satisfy legitimate creditors before making distributions to the heirs.
While you are doing a will, I suggest also doing a Living Will/Health Care Proxy. http://www.ilrg.com/forms/states/ny-livingwill.html"
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