Wills: The Basics
While we go over will's, eso anything's are depend on different people and situations and circumstances that we have ah friend of the get your shit together project and a state planning attorney who is joining the chat room now to be able to help answer questions and or reply or kick people the right resources or in the right direction. So while we're working through our questions here, people out in the inter webs can also be working through their questions as well. So with that who is that again? Our friend breckin, who is in a state planning attorney fantastic is, uh, well, furiously be typing everything he knows into the web. Um so here we are we're talking about wells and again, like I said, it really really depends we all come in different shapes and sizes uh, you know, sweet or savory is just the entry point to what is it that we want? So we're going to be talking about wills and we're going to be talking about the information that goes into wills and some stuff about them, so y...
ou are more comfortable with the territory again. This is not a legal advice we're you know, I'm not clear I'm not a dentist cleaning your teeth, I'm a friend telling you tough lost her teeth more often and giving you some dental floss so with that always seek advice from people, whether it's, whatever, in a way that makes you most comfortable and always sign something only after you understand what's in it. And you read it right, the basic stuff that that our parents tell us. So we'll see what is a will. Um, it is a thing that you sign and it's a legally binding document that assigns guardianship beneficiaries, which is eventually who gets what, uh, assigns how you want your debt to be paid off, and also personal things like if you want gifts to go to people, if you have charities that are important to you, that you want to fund before or after, and then also your funeral or burial wishes that all the suit write it down and pull it out on bond, we can do it for you. You also named power of attorney people. So these are people who you you should know them. If you're going to name people who are close to you people that you trust somebody who's good with money, someone who's good with details, you can also hire somebody to do it. There are some people out there who have family or friends say, halfway across the world, and no one nearby you can actually pay somebody or get a service to do it for you. And the great thing about that is there called an executive ix, which is frankly, like the coolest job title I've ever heard, and I I want to be an executive, rex that's great, so you can get somebody to do it for you, and if you have family that's nearby and you don't, they're not they're just not capable of managing it for you. For whatever reason, you can also hire someone to just neutralize the territory, so we're going to go through that, and we're also going to talk a little bit about trust. Trust is one of the things that people ask about all the time because we talk about them and then there's just a little extra layers to them. So trust are ways that you can assign your assets to go to somebody else and it's way to speed through the probate process, which is after your die uh, the legal proceeding that talks about, you know, who gets what and how that works depends on your state. It depends on your situation, wills or state by state specific, and the question here that we're going to go through in a little bit is a consolidation of the most common things, the most basic things that go in a will on dh. All of those things, no matter what state you're in, we'll ask you to decide on describe who you want to get your stuff, what you want to be done with your pets to finding a digital power of attorney. So we're going to talk about everything you know you need to know and get it ready to then do the final document and make it legal move you actually need to have your well reviewed in the state. You move too true. Yes. So when you move, would be a good time to pull out your checklist. Yeah, and review the things you know, big life transitions or changes like moving even changing a job can affect your insurance. Pull out the checklist and you would want to review your will is pretty frequently anyway, but you would have it done unless the content changes. You just want to make sure that the will that you have is legal in the state that you move to. Do you really want to review your wills frequently? Um, is somebody and it's like done? Don't write about it. Well, here's the thing you can put it away and not look at it forever um, you don't want to put it away for too long. Because if things do change, you have more kids, you get married, sometimes people like me the whole point of this is to get it done to not have to worry and think about it too much, right? But it doesn't mean to never think about it again some people what still have their old will's from before they had kids some people, some people haven't updated their wills since they've been divorced and remarried that happens sometimes, so getting it done is huge updating it I mean, I'm not talking about like, every morning like over coffee instead of checking the news you're like let's see who gets that thing again but once a year once a year in new year's party, right, right this way when you get your annual exam look at your will and then you can find then you can decide and pretty much looking at a will is less unpleasant than your annual doctor checkup or exam I would rather yeah anyway, I won't go there, but you know what I'm talking about? Um so here's the definition a state pacific legally binding who gets what after you die you doesn't need a power attorney and you have to make sure to specify a digital power of attorney we're gonna get to that more later but the same way that um marriage has been voted in or not state by state it's the same thing for digital rights so this is one of these things where the technology has grown like crazy and the laws haven't really kept up with the technology. So what you own online is not treated the same way property wise as the lamp in your house so digital assets are a whole new kind of wild west still legally and so we're gonna provisioned for that by including a power of attorney in your will document also have backups um when we're going to go through the questionnaire, you're gonna list somebody who you who you trust who you who you're looking too, but if you don't update your will for a year or two, if that person happens to move out of town um for an extended period of time or if that person happens to then become in a situation where that would be a hardship and somebody else would be better little things can kind of get updated and tweaked as you go so backups, backups, backups um it really takes a few hours. We talked about this briefly, but there are there are a few options working with an attorney absolutely a great idea if you have the resource is it's an even better idea for someone to help you through it, hold your hand or kind of project manager and do it for you I believe I believe in my experience and from what I've talked to people is that the reason why over half of america doesn't have wills is not because there aren't enough attorneys. There are a lot of reasons why we don't and there's fear and there's, procrastination and there's all these other things and we'll get back to the original uncomfortable talking to strangers about personal details that's a real thing and so there are other options that you should know about on dh their online templates that you can you can download state by state that walking through the process there's software that you could buy two where you can do it at home as well he could do it all in ones sitting or you can do it a couple at a time, but you can do it at home if you're if you're uncomfortable of course, always always, always make sure you understand everything always, always, always make sure that it's it's appropriate, but it is not necessarily that expensive. Like some estate planning and family planning, attorneys charge you can't pay a lot a lot a lot of money you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on your will if you want to and if you have a very complicated situation or a lot of assets to protect sometimes that's what people choose him on the route that they need to go many people don't have that complicated situation, so a state planning attorneys that I've talked to in seattle can do. Ah, basic planning for a single person or a married couple for maybe five, six, eight hundred dollars up to perhaps a couple of thousand dollars. And the trick is you do it once you do it right, you put it away and you update it. You know, every couple of years if you need to, but if you want to buy something online, it costs, you know, up to one hundred dollars so it's not a financial hardship to get it done. Depending on which category of things that you want to do, you can also do it on your own. You have the right to create a legally binding document, and you can do that with usually in most states is two witnesses. Um, that watch you sign it, they sign it too, and then you get it notarized and often your bank or library will do it for a small charge or sometimes free or you can hire a notary that are listed in like the phone book and they can there's even mobile notaries. You can have a party and everyone comes over to your house and you sign wills and just stamp um and off you go so trust trust of the things to answer your question that are often set up and included in the will because it's an additional way to make probate faster and cheaper. So what you're essentially doing is you're assigning, you're giving assets, you're taking your assets and you're putting them in somebody else's name, so essentially you don't own them anymore. They're already that other person's process property, so when you die it's like, oh yeah, this is a trust and it's going to that person, and you can just kind of stamp it and move it through really, really quickly washington statement, this state where I did my wills is alone much easier process, then some others again state by state, and I've heard a number of attorneys say just by example, that california process is much more complicated than that washington state and therefore more people decide to get trust to make that process more easy for them, so we'll talk a little bit more about that as we go on. So why personal reasons, miners making sure that a trust is set up so your children who aren't old enough to legally own them that they it's still their property, um, depending on when and how you set up a trust there's a couple different ways to do it. These are the very, very basics just so you get a lay of the land, and then you can follow up with either an attorney or a new online software. So the trust basics are a living one or a testamentary. So when you do a living trust, it becomes effective right away. When you do a testamentary testament testamentary, it becomes effective after you die, if you have a living will, and then you die, then eventually you know it becomes the thing that that happens. You can also set one up that you can change later, or you can set one up that you can't change it all, um, to revoke it or your revoke it revocable or arab irrevocable trust. So if you want to set it up and get your assets into somebody else's property, you can do that in a way where you can change it frequently. Often people get divorced, or if you have more kids or something, you can change it later or you can set one up that you can't change it. Also, once you dump your stuff over there, whether your partner leaves you for a movie star and on its it's off, so there you go, um what you need to do to name and your trust is who gets the stuff the beneficiary is what's that that's called and then the trustee is the person who manages it which is either you or you can name somebody else again state laws decide they really, really, really very widely but again it's easy to dio it doesn't have to cost that much and we could get it done in a few hours and if you don't have one, things can get really really ugly really really fast um so in my situation it ended up being where it was an easy process, but in many situations there's not and I think we've all heard horror stories about guardianship that wasn't authorized or people who are arguing if you don't a sign of guardian for your kids and then two sets of grand parents let's say or fighting over who gets them it makes ah hard time harder so this is about making a hard time easier um so what happens if you don't have one, things could go very, very wrong and your family can fight things can also get very, very expensive and probate we'll take a chunk of your state, so if you have money that you want to go into a college account or your intention was to do something, it may not and it can also it becomes up to somebody else what happens? So if you don't decide and assign, then it depends on but then the state basically is going to follow their laws most frequently, it'll go to the spouse, and then we'll go to the closest family relatives, but they decide for you rather than you decide in advance. Um, most common mistakes for wells, I'm not doing one is a great way to not do it right, so we're going to get that taken care of today, so again, removing barriers, doing it incorrectly. Um, if there's a number of ways that we can do things incorrectly, right, we make mistakes when we're doing our shopping list or baking something or writing numbers down, so this is something to do intentionally and review it and make sure that it that it's good, you can do it incorrectly on your own and that's a lot of the things that attorneys will say, you know, make sure you're doing it right, and if you do it on your own, the chances of doing it incorrectly, a cz possible, and that is also true. I've also heard stories from my experience where people hire an attorney who may not be an estate planning attorney to drop the documents for you, and so you can still get it done wrong with an attorney if you're not giving them all the information, if you have somebody who may not be up to date or if you have somebody, perhaps, who doesn't specialize it and as well. So working with an attorney, you want to get a good one by referral and somebody who has experience working in this particular area. Um, not considering all the scenarios, so say for example, you're writing your will and you forget toe put your business in or you forget to put something in its not necessarily doing it incorrectly, but it's not including everything, and so those pieces that aren't listed in the will aren't assumed if it's something far, far off and something else, so think holistically about what you've gotten where you wanted to go, and then it'll go there. Um, how and when the money is given? If you don't specify that you want your five hundred thousand dollars trust fund to be parsed out to your kids, it could be that they get the whole lump sum right away and blow it within a fantastic year living in the riviera. So think about who you wanted to go to, but also maybe what that money should go towards and how frequently and when you want. Teo them to get it when you want them to have access to it. So it could be a monthly stipend. It could be annual. It could be in big chunks of money. Kind of spread out over, you know, of course, of, you know, five or ten or fifteen years. So there's that and then not updating it. So you get divorced, you remarry. Um, and the house is still in your ex's name that can cause problems as well. There's also something called an ethical will. It is essentially a letter. Um, it is something that people are starting to do more on war. And as we're talking about legacy, um, it it's a nice way to include in your will, not just like I want you to have my r e o speedwagon album, but I also want you to have this story about what's important to me here's a video of me talking about motorcycle maintenance because it's really important here, the things that I also want to share with you, not just my stuff or my money, but the things that I want to share with you. And given the fact that we have all of these tech enology options available now, like you can sell for yourself and like upload it toe though when I die folder and then your kids could be like others dad doing that stupid thing or there's this so there's that so there's a number of ways that we could be thinking about what we want to leave behind not just you know who gets your for a one k right so that's a nice thing that we can include can ask a question yeah there's quite a few there's two people actually in the chat rooms discussing just convert having conversations and talking about that they would love to do this but they can't get their husbands to sign it a thing where their husbands won't sign is there any way that you could sign create a will for your family without having your husband sign it well or do you know so you can create you can create your own will and and still be a married person each person needs to have their own will and we go through the questionnaire and a little bit usually what happens is that the two the two spouses will assign the other person as the number one choice and all situations so having somebody as your legal partner and having your assets legally combined without a will is a little tricky but there are some ways that when you write down um where you want your stuff to go who you want to have your things who the beneficiaries are on your on your will or your life insurance policy you can get very, very, very specific if you have a, uh partner who is too afraid or perhaps not there in good faith so you there a number of ways you can protect yourself having your name on assets makes you owner of them, so if you own a house with somebody and your name isn't on that and that person hasn't included you in the will as somebody who gets the house, that might be a little bit that might be a little tricky so I would encourage all of us to think about protecting ourselves in our wishes and that our hope is that we would have partners to support us on that um and if for some reason they're finding that to be a struggle, we can still do everything we can to list on our policies are beneficiaries and make things legally binding. What our wishes our our whether we're married or not um perhaps similar to the way people who are married can still file separately on our taxes maybe just think about it like that cool and breckin mentioned in the chat room yes certainly prepare an estimate on your own but also best to have a discussion with your husband at some point about that yeah, I was going to get to that that is an excellent point it's hard to talk about and sometimes it's scary and we unless we have information to know why that person doesn't want to talk with us about it we were left to speculate and usually our imagination doesn't go to a good place actually kept one of the people discussing it did say my husband's culture considers talking about death or disasters taboo yeah so many people feel that way um I come from the midwest which is its own special brand of not talking about things and it's hard and it isthe and so one of the things that we can do here is figure out the ways that we need to protect ourselves because should you have a a partner who believes very deeply um and or is entrenched for whatever reason to not work with you on this you can start to open the dialogue to see if you can move the needle a little bit and or in the meantime make sure that you got yourself covered because while your living here you're under this state or federal law and your assets um are decided by the state and that's just that and or and or the laws tomorrow we're going to be talking more about having the conversation and there's two specific areas that I want to talk about and this might be a great thing for us to practice we're going to talk about how to set up the conversation to go well we are going to be excited to share our road map of someone look, sweetie, I figured it out all we have to do is just check and sign and well let's go have dinner um and then there's also the points of the conversation when they don't go well and what are some tactics to getting through the hard spots when you're sideswiped or when you disagree because disagreements happen? Some people say that's what makes a healthy relationship is that you have things to discuss together um but unethical will maybe is a great place to start where if the, um if somebody isn't willing to talk about the legally binding part, you can say, well, it's important to me that should something happen that we would have stories to share with our family and then that might be something to crack the door a little bit to start or leading by example or leave my example right that you know it's not so much about dad that's about life that that's it's about the peace in our lives together right now I'm just, you know, trying to put myself in that person's shoes and yeah, also starting with leading by example are saying it's it's very important to me, sweetie, if you could listen teo, you know these things I've just spent some time thinking about my will it made me realize that these things are really important to me it would be meaningful to me if we could share some of this together just little bits so now I think we might need to have a moment of zen oh, deep cleansing it's kind of heavy but then again it's also just just a document like this isn't about a piece of paper it's about your life and your life is a lot more than just a piece of paper so let's just get the piece of paper done and get on with your life now the little cleansing breath already big open, spacious conversation and ready ready? Okay, so go ahead and go to the will questionnaire and what we're going to dio is we're going to take a little bit of time going through the top things that almost all wills have it's a worksheet it's not a legally binding document, but what it's going to do is get you everything that you need to know um or almost everything you need to know or discuss or decide and then dumped that into the legally binding document and you'll be really, really ready to rock and roll so most of it is about getting the information ready and knowing where to start it's not about putting this into a word doc and printing it out in signing it that'll be the easier part so what's get our thinking hats on and open to the will document so the first thing um is your contact information so if it's just you so actually let me let me clarify there's two documents and in there the first one is for a married couple and if you flip a couple pages back there's also one for a single person the content is exactly the same but it's just tailored tio to you and your situation um so let's start with it for so the first thing is you and if you have a partner right that partner down you're going to need to know how old they are which if your partner I'm assuming you d'oh unless there's a big surprise like that's not what your online dating profile said I know you're seven years younger date of birth and whether you're a u s citizen or not and we are talking about the u s right now and if their international things and that's just a second layer of follow up to do but in the meantime, if your assets are held you know here you want to talk about you want to talk you want to take this from your life here you're going to need to have your home address I'm guessing that you know what that is uh on um phone and email often this is um so people can reach you if they need tio and or if you're working with an attorney, they're going to want to be able to follow up with you and or if you, um I need somebody to follow up with it and you're married and you have this you know, sitting with your attorney or your friend or whoever is listed on the first point of contact is often a spouse what they like to call the surviving spouse which is always fun um if you have kids you want to list who they are, their names, their addresses if they don't live with you their adult children, their age and birthday as well I'm doing my head in there you cans I didn't see a pet spot you know, I think we get to that a little bit later but I do want you to be able tio put that in up front so we make sure that we yeah added a minute get him, get him, get him get him he has the first and last name and an age in a birthday e I love it now the thing about it if you want to give all of your money to a pet and make you want to specify who owns the pet and who needed except unit hit tricks yes, exactly tricks but you also want to human to be responsible for the money that needs to go to the pet right? I don't think okay it's tough to do banking za whole opposable something yeah there's more very famous cases there are many famous cases leaving their state to their pets and then not assigning a caretaker I believe him there's a very wealthy cats and dogs there are there are yeah, well that's a little thing like just it's about keeping it really simple I wouldn't do that by the way, don't be that no I mentioned cat costumes but I'm not going to a delegate rebel cho pak as the beneficiary of my will well for your kids or for your pets it's it's almost this but I do want him to be taken care of right ugo that's that's where I'm headed with it right? And you would want to write down specifics about what those wishes might be what's that what kind of food? What kind of food if you have if you have thoughts or opinions or wishes weaken just include children and pets and any anybody who's not legally gonna be ableto um advocate on their own. You know legally on their say you're a single parent and your parents have passed away on dh then that's a tough right because you sort of have to think who's getting your kid you do right and I'm a single parent yeah and so that's something that's a conversation you have to have with people it's a conversation so the one thing that you want to do is while you're filling this out you want to be thinking about what your wishes are and who you want to give it to things important decisions like who's the executor of your will who's going to legally make sure that this happens for you if you need tio who you want your kids to go to like we're starting with what you want to have and we're getting these big questions out of the way often people just get stuck and skid to a halt at at who who gets their kids right and it's a big question so we'll just work through that now but these air also conversations you wanna have like you don't want to surprise anybody later and you want to make sure that the wishes or something that people can can do that they're in a good place to do that that if you have money set aside for a college or fund or it's important to you that your kid have a certain kind of quality of life for certain thing incorporated into their life that that there's a letter that it's legally binding and that the money that's supposed to go to them is set up so you don't have a million dollar fluffy and everybody fighting in court over over fluffy and trying to murder your cat no for that or that either a lifetime movie yeah, it was about making problems go away rather than adding new ones. What do we think about having an executor who's? Not in this country I think extra complicated. Well, here's the thing the executor is somebody who is going to be your attorney you could have it be your attorney, you could have somebody is a backup and you could also have somebody you can list a cz many different people as you likes for different things. So if you want somebody who's out of the country to have a role in your will, you can write them in with some kind of oversight the executor of your will is somebody who's going toe end up managing a bunch of details. Yeah, and so my my my thinking is that for them to be able tio maybe go to the bank with a power of attorney or or be able to make it easier that having them nearby might be a good way to do that. But there's there's a number of details for this that they're going toe that you're that you're trusting somebody to manage. So making that as easy as possible could help? Well, I'm just going to keep talking out loud because I figured there's probably people on the internet there with my similar situation, but you know jai mom, hi dad, I'm thinking about you and you know, and how it's going once more organized maybe than the other, and so that's sort of where I'm thinking about it, just like who's better at dealing with claims, expenses, obligations, tax liability, it's it's, sort of complicated stop it can be, and so we're going to want to make it easier for them and parents. Parents is often a first choice, or if we're much older and we have adult children that often we go there first, the same thing with living will, which we'll talk about it a little bit later today, it doesn't have to be your parents, and a default is tohave spouse one name you know, spouse to win, supposed to names best one that's often the case, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you have somebody in your life who's better with the details, you can do that, and then you can have your parents being charged of of something else that is easier based on their location or their time availability or their skill set for sure, and there is the option to pay somebody else to do it for you. You can get somebody to do it, anted andan some ways that might be an easier option that's somebody who's feeling more neutral about the feelings because that's a that's their job rather than somebody who's really, really close to you who might be kind of leveled for a while and it's hard to look through a bank statements um when we get to power of attorney medical out I'll share my story I have a story there you know, I've heard you mentioned before that you know you're the spouse maybe the natural personally select like that's who you do but maybe your spouse isn't my supposed is actually totally level headed but in some cases they aren't the best person in a crisis or shortly thereafter to manage those things and I thought that was interesting because it's so true even though you trust your life with that person may be they're the best suited under those circumstance because he kind of a burden from that point right here you might be able to dio like a combination of people right? So if you want your spouse involved but feel like there might be better to have somebody who's more level headed at the time so her name a duel a supposed to just one person right? Absolutely and I think I think it depends on so there's the there's the ability to execute on your will that's essentially what it is that somebody to say ok here's the people who are listed here is where it's supposed to go my job is to make sure that this happens its oversight on making things happen it's not necessarily needed you're the one I love the most, right? Trust me on that one I don't live at all because you have tio so much I'm not meaning you hey, yeah, exactly exactly and so this is this is really thinking through that and I'm depending on your, um your situation with your married, whether you're not married, whether your spouse is goingto not want to do it or not, it can really, really depend and you can think about that and you can think about backup two you can think about a, um it's not just the executor has to do everything you can name you could name a lot of different people he could name one person for the executor of the will you can name somebody to be in charge of your finances you could name somebody to be in charge of your children, you could name somebody else to be in charge of your pets you could name somebody else to be in charge of your digital life. So somebody who's really good on the internet may not be somebody who's the same, you know, the same level of organization or skill in something in the financial space, so spreading out the responsibility is not a bad idea if if they're all people you know who are responsible and work you know, they don't necessarily have to work together. They just have to take take their their role seriously. Yeah, so the executor make sure that it happens. They don't necessarily have to do everything.