Have you completed a Will?
Three years after having our first child, we finally got around to completing our Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Durable Power of Attorney.
If you were to review any estate planning checklist, these would be the top three items on the list.
Because they help make some really important decisions you should think about now, instead of when it’s too late.
Things like: what happens to your kids when you die?; what happens to your assets when you die?; and what happens when you are on life support and can’t make decisions for yourself?
I’m so glad to have this done. We were such slackers for the longest time.
I shared a post last year on how some people choose to do their Last Will and Testament for free. That’s not what we decided to do. Nor did we decide to use the online legal services (like LegalZoom.com). We have a friend that is a lawyer here in Texas and we decided to use his services.
I’m glad we did because I really didn’t know what all was involved with the comprehensive estate planning process here in Texas. In the end we’re left with the following 3 documents:
1. Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates (Living Will)
The Directive to Physicians, or Living Will, is a document that outlines your wishes, if you are ever in a “terminal” condition and/or “irreversible” condition AND unable to make your own medical decisions. I personally had the hardest time with this document.
We also completed a Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release Authorization. This assigns an agent to help carry out your Living Will and make additional medical decisions for you.
2. Last Will and Testament
The Last Will and Testament is the main thing we wanted out of these process because we wanted to direct who would take care of our children if something were to happen to us. The Will also dictates what happens to our assets. We weren’t very nitpicky here. Lastly, we had to decide on an Executor (the person who executes the Will) and Guardians (multiple in case one isn’t around) for the children.
3. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney
Lastly, we now have a Durable Power of Attorney. This document gives an agent the authority to make financial moves on our behalf if we are ever incapacitated. In addition to the POA, we had to complete a Notice to Person Executing Power of Attorney (I guess this is Texas’ way of making sure you know what powers you’re giving up).
Working with a Lawyer
The process of getting all of this done was fairly straight-forward (4 parts): questionnaire, information gathering meeting, document preparation, and signing with witnesses.
First, we scheduled a information gathering meeting with our lawyer, Robert. Because he’s a good friend, he offered to meet us at our home so we wouldn’t have to get a baby-sitter. The day before, he provided a questionnaire for us to complete. Some of the questions we were unsure about, which is why the meeting was critical.
The questionnaire was used to gather some basic information about me, Mrs. PT, our children, and our financial situation. We were also asked to provide answers to these questions:
- Who will serve as Executor (of the Last Will and Testament)?
- Who will serve as Guardians (multiple) for any minor children?
- Who will serve as agent on the Durable Power of Attorney (multiple for each spouse)?
- Who will serve as agent in the Medical Power of Attorney (multiple for each spouse)?
Next, our lawyer completed the actual documents and forwarded them on to us for review. Upon acceptance we scheduled a meeting to sign the documents in front of witnesses and a notary. The signing took less than an hour, and thanks to another friend lending her babysitting skills, we were able to attend the meeting without the kids.
Lawyer Fees vs LegalZoom.com
I couldn’t help myself. I had to compare costs. The cost to complete the estate planning documents outlined above with our lawyer (with friend and family discount) was around $550. If we were to complete the same services through LegalZoom.com it would cost around $350.
- LegalZoom Last Will and Testament (comprehensive) – $79 x2
- LegalZoom Living Will (comprehensive) $49 x2
- LegalZoom Power of Attorney (comprehensive) $44.95 x2
Based on our level of involvement (next to none), the personal service we received, and the fact that we’re supporting a friend, I’m comfortable with the extra $200 spent.
Most importantly, I’m happy to have this completed.
Have you completed your Will? Did you have these other documents completed too? Did you make your own Will or use a lawyer?