Oh, Winter makes me feel MORBID! The cold gets in my bones, and makes me feel like I’m going to die. So, recently it occurred to me, I should update my will. Ya never know!
I’m no lawyer, but I’d say anybody with minor children should have a will. You have to specify legally where your kids will go and who will take care of them, this is not a slam-dunk. Years ago I read a story in the ER about a Paradise couple who died in a car accident, leaving a 13 year old boy and a mortgaged home. There was no will, and the neighbors had to step in to keep the boy from being sent to social services and keep the home off the auction block.
That was tough, took me months. For one thing, we only had my mother and my father-in-law for guardians, and they were both beyond over the hill, and had/have major health concerns. Just wondering if they would outlive us, we decided to name a friend as guardian, and another friend as executor. We had long chats with these two, describing our assets and debts and what exactly they would need to do in the event of our untimely demise. None of us were comfortable with the situation, I just held my breath and hoped to live until at least one of the kids was 18. The worst part is, the court can decide they don’t like your arrangements and do whatever they want, and if your appointees can’t get a good enough lawyer, that’s the way it goes.
I’m so relieved my kids are now adults. But, when your kids are adults, you still need a will to identify them as your heirs, or as far as I know, the state collects your property(ies) and bank account(s) and your heirs have to get a lawyer and go to court to sort it all out. I’ve had close friends who have been through this, and it was like watching them try to keep vultures off a dead body. The lawyer gets a certain percentage off the top, even if he or she doesn’t do anything.
The Chico lawyer I hired to help with my mom’s estate took over $8,000, and I had to do all the legwork, including drive to other towns to collect large amounts of money owed to my mother by people who tried to cheat me. I’d call other professionals for information or advice and they’d say, “your lawyer is supposed to be doing this for you…” I’m still not sure what he did, if anything, but his legal aid quit halfway through – she apologized to me, saying her boss was abusive and she was taking a pay cut to work elsewhere. I was left to do all the rest by myself. I won’t mention this man’s name, he’s with the biggest law firm in town, and connected to the biggest accounting firm in town. When he told me to take my mom’s unfinished taxes to his accountant friend, I thought it was worth the money to get it done right. I won’t mention this man’s name either – but he manages the campaign of one of our sitting council members. He handed the taxes over to a 23 year old assistant, who cried to me she didn’t know what she was doing, needed my help! Three weeks went by and I had nothing, so I called in and told them I wanted my tax work back, paid for the time the little gal had spent – $150 for NOTHING – and took them to my regular accountant, John Burge. Burge had them done in three days, and only charged me about $300.
After that experience, and a similar experience with my mother-in-law’s death, I don’t want my kids to have to deal with a lawyer. So, I’ve written my own will using Nolo Press, websites, and wills I have from my mother and father-in-law that were written by high-priced lawyers. I’ve found Nolo covers all the same bases that these wills cover. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get a lawyer, but lawyers have never worked out very well for me.
So, I’m going to be spending the next weeks going over my will, using my Nolo Press book and whatever other information I can gather up. I’ll keep you posted!