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you said, What will probably be required is proof of death, a copy of the will, and quit claims from the disclaiming heirs.

fair enough, i'll assume that what my dad is telling me is on the straight and narrow and he can get his siblings to get the quit claims.

my question is,

"what is the lawyer going to do?" what is it that is so "magical" about a lawyer? I mean, if all the lawyer is going to do is file the proof of death, copy of will and quit claims, then, why can't we do that and move on?

something tells me there's an interim step there....??

You're paying the lawyer to get rid of "probably" in my response. I don't even know where your grandfather lived, not that it would help, since I haven't the first clue what probate requirements are in that jurisdiction unless it's Illinois.

phil, I'm not sure if your first comment about DIY estate planning was meant to be taken at face value or if you were kind of jesting me that maybe I *shouldn't* be trying to learn this stuff for myself... I have a few older people in my lives and I figure I'm going to have to deal with it sooner or later, the only difference is that if i'm trying to deal one of *my* parents estates in the future, i'm going to have a lot *more* emotions going on and i'd rather figure out what's going on ahead of time.

Let me rein in my wit and be perfectly clear: IMO trying to plan or administer an estate without legal counsel is a horrible idea.

Between June 2001 and May 2002 I lost both my parents and one of my closest friends. I don't recall your exact words, but in your OP you mentioned that your father just hasn't been up to dealing with this. Believe me, I can understand. Juggling three estates, one very complicated, while dealing with an enormous loss took all my strength and concentration. Trying to figure out and execute everything that had to be done by myself would have been beyond even my considerable talents.

so, if you are truly supportive of the DIY mentality (within reason - eg, doing it "right"), then please help me understand what it is i'll need to ask the lawyer to do for me.

i've had very bad experiences w/ lawyers who charge me to do their own research and end up doing it wrong.

As Ann Landers used to say, half the lawyers graduated in the bottom half of their classes. As when dealing with any professional, if you're not getting what you're paying for, the line is "Thank you for your time. I'll not be needing any more of your services."

I've yammered at people for years to get their papers in order, but, of course, I'd not done my own. After my mother's death, when I saw how relatively easy it was to take care of things because everything was in order, I got off my duff and had mine done. I spent less than $300, including funding a living trust, and I spent less than $300 in attorney's fees clearing up both my parents' estates. I consider it money well spent.

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