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Author: math999man Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Global Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 19221  
Subject: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 9/27/2003 10:15 PM
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My mother tells me that a will is not really required since all the assents get transferred equally to the next of kin and spouse. Her mother passed on years ago and her mother did not have a will. All my grandmothers assets went to my mother and uncle (only kin).

my question is --- does a will serve any purpose if the next of kin is to get the remaining assets anyway ? does the answer depend upon the amount of assets (lets say under $10,000 assets no will is OK vs. having assets of $1million a person needs a will ?

Thanks for your response !
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Author: intercst Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8620 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 9/27/2003 11:32 PM
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Here's the answer:

http://www.suffolklaw.com/EstatePlanningWhatHappensIf.htm

Usless you are sure your state's intestacy laws match your mother's wishes on how the estate should be distributed, you should have a will.

intercst

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Author: TwoCybers Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8621 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 9/29/2003 11:19 AM
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In addition to the state, your mother lives in, deciding who gets her estate, there are other issues that may be important. For example if your mother has and IRA or real-estate, these items could be tied up for periods of time dictated by the state.

The complexity of things at the time of death is affected by the size of the estate - assuming all else is equal. However this statement will be misleading to many people because rarely is everything else equal.

Many states have inheritance taxes are different from the federal laws which get most of the press. Depending on where she has residence, state taxes could kick in at smaller or larger estates.

Having a will in many situations is not enough. As an example, if a person owns property singly (i.e. the title is not joint with a spouse or another person), the property will go to the estate. If that person has stocks or a pension plan (other then a defined benefit type), the pension funds may go to the estate if a beneficiary is not specified with the pension fund. Titling property jointly and naming beneficiaries can send items where she wants without having them pass through her estate.

If your mother's estate is under $10,000 there may not be a need if she wants stuff distributed as per the state law and if she wants to pay someone the state appoints to handle things - these fees can be significant. But I recommend she at least consult with an attorney on this matter. An hour of information may save dozens of hours of aggravation on the part of you and other family members. It might be the best investment you make this decade.

Gordon
Atlanta


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Author: dougdoogle Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8622 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 9/30/2003 11:14 PM
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Of course you're not required to have a will. If you put your mind to it, you could easily die without one.

But money spent on one now may well be far less than money spent doing things the state's way later.

Doug

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Author: nutsandbolts Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8623 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/1/2003 8:08 AM
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I just popped in on this board and have not read prior post, so take my comments accordingly.

My understanding of a will and/or a trust is to avoid legal expenses and the long time period that goes with having it go into probate.

As I have read, the time element can last up to several years in some instances and jurisdictions. All the expenses incurred is taken from the estate regardless of the size. Even with a sole survivor the process is the same.

I welcome comments and/or errors.

Brooks

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Author: Trini209 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8624 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/1/2003 3:24 PM
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One error there, Brooks: a will must be probated. In order to avoid probate, you can use a trust, and put all your assets into that trust, a bothersome and rather expensive process. Any assets still in the name of the deceased (not in a trust) must go through probate.

Assets with a named beneficiary do not go through probate. For instance, an IRA has one or more beneficiaries listed with the financial institution which holds it. The IRA goes to those beneficiaries without probate upon the owner's death.

If the lady in question has few assets, she can put her money in a savings account, or a checking account, and list beneficiaries on the form with which she opens the account. This is called a POD (pay on death) clause. I believe that some brokerage firms also offer POD accounts. Upon her death, the funds in the account are distributed to the beneficiaries listed, without probate.

Even if she has a will, the list of beneficiaries on a POD account takes precedent over the terms of the will.

She can, if she wants, give away her money before her death. (She may not be ready to do this!) She can give $11,000/year (I believe that's the current amount) to as many individuals as she wants, gift or estate tax free. For instance, $11k each to 3 kids, their 3 spouses, and 4 grandkids would remove $100k from her probatable assets. She can repeat this each year. If she reduces her estate to $0, she doesn't need a will. No probate.

Incidentally, probate isn't all that complicated or expensive in every state. Just don't die in the states where probate is a relative nightmare.

Trini


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Author: edcosoft Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8625 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/1/2003 4:48 PM
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Trini. Since you were so adamant I couldn't help but comment that a will need NOT be Probated. Consider when granny dies there's 3 things to do, and everyone considered an heir/decendant, whether named in the will or not) must agree:
1. Divide up the cash and untitled personal property (jewelry and furniture. art work, minks, etc) between the heirs before the estate tax assssors sees it (;>).
2. Pay all her bills and creditors, particularly the funeral bill, before one of them opens a Probate to collect and be sure to specifically reimburse the one who pays the funeral bill.
3. Transfer titled assets to heirs. Lots of ways in case she didn't put a POD or beneficiary on them. Car titles usually by DMV with a death certificate. Bonds and stocks though willing transfer agents with an affadavit and death certificate. If the TA balks, try one in a diferent State. Bank accounts and CDs are easily released by a small estates affadavit or Surety Bond "in lieu of Probate". Title companies usually waive Probate to transfer title when real property is sold--for a 2% fee.
A problem such as a non-heir being named in the will can easily make the will disappear. ((;>(
You do not NEED a lawyer to do any of the above. #3 could get difficult in some States. In some States its cheaper and easier to have the lawyer do it. Not every estate can be done like this, but probably 90% or more. Ed


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Author: Trini209 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8630 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/2/2003 6:57 AM
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Whew, that was good, Ed! I stand corrected. You're right, as always, and a true font of information.

When I die, remind me to have my heirs consult with you. <grin>

Trini

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8631 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/7/2003 6:58 PM
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Author: math999man Date: 9/27/03 10:15 PM Number: 8619

My mother tells me that a will is not really required since all the assents get transferred equally to the next of kin and spouse. Her mother passed on years ago and her mother did not have a will. All my grandmothers assets went to my mother and uncle (only kin).

my question is --- does a will serve any purpose if the next of kin is to get the remaining assets anyway ? does the answer depend upon the amount of assets (lets say under $10,000 assets no will is OK vs. having assets of $1million a person needs a will ?


The main reason for a will is to tell the heirs how to divide up the estate, so there aren't any uncertainties, and possibly to designate who is to get certain specific items. Without a will, it is also possible that a distant relative could claim some part of the estate, and then you'd have to fight that in the courts.

Russ

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Author: pmarti Big funky green star, 20000 posts Home Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8632 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/9/2003 4:13 AM
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In order to avoid probate, you can use a trust, and put all your assets into that trust, a bothersome and rather expensive process.

I keep hearing this as an argument against trusts and have to weigh in with opposing experience. After administering my parents' estates through their trust, coming in under $200 in attorney's fees, start-to-finish of less than 3 months, and zero court appearances by anyone, I compared the experience to administering a friend's will in probate to the tune of more than $4,000 in attorney's fees and about 8 months duration. Both cases were pretty simple--a house and a car and some investments and the household goods. Note: since so much depends on state law and procedures, I should note that my parents died in Kansas and my friend in Illinois--Cook County to boot.

It cost me less than $300 total to get all my paperwork (will, living will, durable PoA and trust agreement) and to fund the trust, including retitling my assets. It was also very easy to take care of the details.

Phil

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Author: billjam Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 8633 of 19221
Subject: Re: IS A WILL REQUIRED ? Date: 10/9/2003 12:25 PM
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Phil wrote: "I keep hearing this as an argument against trusts and have to weigh in with opposing experience. After administering my parents' estates through their trust, coming in under $200 in attorney's fees, start-to-finish of less than 3 months, and zero court appearances by anyone, I compared the experience to administering a friend's will in probate to the tune of more than $4,000 in attorney's fees and about 8 months duration. Both cases were pretty simple--a house and a car and some investments and the household goods. Note: since so much depends on state law and procedures, I should note that my parents died in Kansas and my friend in Illinois--Cook County to boot."

I live in Illinois (not Cook County) but was executor of my mother's estate in Pennsylvania. One thing which is very important is to discuss attorney's fees before anything else. Apparently the standard in PA is 6% of the estate. However, it is possible for a layman to handle an estate without an attorney. Knowing that I told the attorney I would not agree to 6%. The estate consisted of house and household goods, car, and mutual funds which could be transferred to the heirs with a simple form. I was going to do most of the work myself but I did want advice on the legalities and the PA estate tax. My refusal to give him thousands of dollars for doing almost nothing seemed to surprise him but he finally agreed to work for $100/hr. His final bill was %1,500, which seemed about right according to the time I estimated he (but mostly his secretary) spent over a 9 month period. I saved about $6,000.

My attorney in Illinois says the percentage fee is no longer allowed here and he will charge by the hour when the time comes. Since your friend's estate was handled in Cook County you may just have had one of their high priced attorneys charging $300 or $400 per hour.


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