I can officially die now… ;)

by J. Money -

treasure maps

Welp friends, we finally checked off the last major part of managing our finances!

We got a will and trust!!

And it only took me 10 years to do DESPITE BEING A MONEY BLOGGER! ;)

(Just keep that in mind the next time you’re feeling bad about procrastinating yourself, lol…)

I’d love to say it was super easy to do and we breezed through it, but it was actually a b*tch – not gonna lie. Not only to first *find* someone we liked and was affordable enough to help us with it, but also just to go through the million and one questions you have to think about – and make decisions on – before even STARTING the trust.

Things like, who will take care of our kids if we both die? Who should *manage* our trust for us that we can count on? When should we disperse the funds to our kids, and at what %’s and ages? What do we want to happen to us if we’re on life support and can’t make any decisions? What about our bodies once we’re gone?

Now some of those questions don’t relate if you’re just going with the will and not doing some of the other paperwork that’s related (power of attorney, advanced medical directive, etc), but since we finally committed to sitting down and doing this thing, we figured why not knock it all out at the same time and be done with it once and for all?

Took us about 4 months from the time we first met with our lawyer to having everything signed and in our hands, but now we’re done and it feels SO GOOD!! Wish we would have done it sooner, of course, but hey, not all of us are perfect… At least we got it now!!

Here’s everything we now have filed away:

(Copies in our safe, copies with our executor, and copies at our lawyer’s place)

  • Will – for me
  • Will – for Mrs.
  • Power of Attorney – me
  • Power of Attorney – Mrs.
  • Advanced Medical Directive – me
  • Advanced Medical Directive – Mrs.
  • Family Trust (Revocable Living Trust)

Total costs: Just under $2,500

Which may look expensive, but compared to the other estimates we got when shopping around ($4,000-$10,000!) it was a steal at first sight. Which they are able to offer because they’re a small firm working out of their homes without much overhead! And the fact they were LOCAL and wouldn’t charge me by the minute for all my questions was the fat cherry on top. Because I had a lot of questions :)

But it’s all wrapped up now, and we move onto the 2nd part of the process – which is actually PUTTING THINGS INTO THE TRUST! So they’re safe and avoid probate!

Here’s a good article on what to watch for and *not* put in them (at least revocable trusts like ours), as well as some other articles that explain the ins and outs of wills and trusts more:

TL;DR on the trust benefits which sold us:

  • Helps you avoid probate on your assets
  • Let’s you plan for the possibility of your own incapacity
  • Helps you control what happens to your property once you’re gone
  • Helps prevent your financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record

All of which, of course, is good to talk over with your accountant if you have one, not only to make sure it aligns up well with your particular situation, but also to cross reference the advice your estate lawyer might have as I found their opinions can vary greatly depending on the angle they’re looking at.

(For example: our lawyer said to get an EIN for our trust once it’s set up to start being reported on, whereas our accountant said NOT to and to use my social security # instead. Then when we die, the *executor* of the trust establishes the tax id and it becomes an official entity at that point – thereby avoiding major tax hits along the way!)

Here’s what’ll be in our trust as soon as I finish creating all the new accounts for it… (they require new ones under the trust’s name/details vs our personal ones):

  • Our house (deed needs to be changed)
  • Two bank accounts (one checking, one savings – where we’ll hold a bulk of our savings)
  • A non-retirement brokerage account (starting up a new one again for legacy $$$!)

The rest of our assets like our IRAs and other retirement accounts – and even our life insurance policies – won’t be tied to it for tax reasons… They’ll all flow into us and then we can move over any of the $$$ into our trust as needed (or when we die). Though it is good to go over all the *beneficiaries* you have set up everywhere to make sure they’re still accurate! I found a number of places I needed to update as I went down each of them one by one… Which was also not a fun process to do, haha…

But we’re all good now, baby!! And I have to say – it feels great! Between that and our minivan this year, I’m really feeling like an adult over here! Lol…

Now to just see if I can out-live our wills ;)

Hope some of this helps y’all if you’ve been wanting to get this process going as well… Again, it’s not the easiest, but if you allow yourself a few months to do it like we did it does make it a tiny bit less painful… See if you can beat me and wrap it up within 10 years of needing this stuff! ;)

Questions/comments/concerns, drop ’em below and will do my best to answer…

XOXO

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MyMoneyDesign April 27, 2020 at 6:40 am

Nice job getting that done! We put off getting our trust / will for way too long ( … no good reason why). It was such a load off our minds when we finally did it.

I was surprised by the costs you were given. We only ended up paying $1,000 total to a local reputable lawyer for our package. He even helped us switch over the house into a Lady Bird deed. Maybe it’s just a geographical difference.

Have fun adding the trust as one of your beneficiaries to your retirement accounts. Because most companies will only allow the names of real people or limit the number of characters, I actually had to contact customer service for a few of my providers and have them add in the name of our trust manually.

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2 J. Money April 27, 2020 at 6:46 am

Wow $1,000 is a steal! And that got you wills and power of attorney’s and trust?

Def. a lot more work getting things attached to the trust for sure… Had to fill out like 20 pages of docs just to open up a savings account! Haha…

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3 Brian April 27, 2020 at 8:22 am

That price does seem pretty good. Glad you found a local firm you like. We are using the same person my dad is using. She is great and basically gave us a family discount. She also does fun things for all her clients like movie outings, that way everyone can feel like they have a new network they could tap into.

She also invited us to an amazing dinner / speaking series she helps sponsor and we got to listen to and meeting Magic Johnson. He is a really good speaker and has lived a very interesting life.

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4 J. Money April 27, 2020 at 9:05 am

Oh wow!!! That is awesome!! Did he get into finances at all?! He’d be cool to hear at Fincon :)

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5 Brian April 27, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Not so much numbers, but more about why he chose to put certain businesses in certain neighborhoods.

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6 Paul April 27, 2020 at 8:53 am

RE: “But we’re all good now, baby!! And I have to say – it feels great! Between that and our minivan this year, I’m really feeling like an adult over here! Lol…”

All that’s left is for you to tell some kid to get off your lawn and the circle is complete.

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7 J. Money April 27, 2020 at 9:04 am

Haha… *with raised fists*

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8 Christine April 27, 2020 at 9:02 am

Way to go! That’s huge! I subscribed to my company’s legal plan offered as a part of benefits with the intention of doing my will that way, and a year and a few months after first doing that, still haven’t! And I’m going to be leaving that job in 8 days (holler!!!! For another job—not retirement but it’s still a long awaited great thing!) so…who knows when I’ll get around to that. I’d feel a lot better having it figured out. That, and a good life insurance policy, particularly for me so that my husband could stay in the house without my income. Anyway, way to go on doing an unpleasant task!

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9 J. Money April 27, 2020 at 9:21 am

Haha thanks! Def. not fun but just one of those things! Maybe set a calendar item to get back to it yourself after a month or so of being settled in the new gig? I found doing it in smaller chunks def. helped :) And the *insurance* part is a lot easier to do than the will/trust! You usually have to do a medical exam with hit, but once you get the process going it’s pretty easy. And once it’s set up you can promptly forget about it for years!! :) (Also good to do insurance sooner than later if you’re presently healthy!! Rates will be a lot lower that you can lock in!)

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10 Tracy April 27, 2020 at 9:22 am

That’s why I joined my company’s legal plan as well, but we did actually do our wills. Considering our kid was five years old at the time, we were feeling “ahead of the curve.” I just wish we’d done independent life insurance earlier than we did because by the time we got it, I was already pregnant (and older) and it was a lot more expensive than it would have been in my 20s. Oh well. We have our 20 year term and that will get us to adult kids and that is all that truly matters! Best of luck on getting your wills done at that next job!

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11 Andrea April 27, 2020 at 9:39 am

Just a caveat to checking this off as “done” and locking it away for posterity :-) You need to stay on top of it and update it regularly……My father-in-law forked out the bucks on his plumber salary back in the 80s to setup a trust. Fast forward to 2019, and he passed away in his 90s (a life well lived). It was a total $***storm for his 3 kids to attempt to invoke his medical OR his financial trust to make decisions on his behalf/take care of his affairs while he was in the throes of hospital/medical drama. It was added stress on top of a stressful situation. He had just marked it “done”, stuck it in a box and never updated it. The verbiage in the trust was no longer up to date with current legal requirements, which in turned tied everyones hands and hindered their abilities to care for him at the end.

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12 J. Money April 27, 2020 at 9:56 am

Ugh, yes – great point :( Good to do a mental check-in at least once a year to see if anything major has changed… In fact, I’ll go make a calendar item RIGHT NOW to pop up in a year and ask this!! Thank you! Were you all able to get everything sorted out now or still wading through it all??! Even with a will/trust you still need to have all your accounts and passwords and other details down somewhere too for future people to manage :( And then *TELL THEM* where it is so they even know about it!! Lol…. “Legacy Binders” are a good way to do that.

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13 Andrea April 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

Wading through it slooooowwwwly with a ticking 1 year calendar clock (Aug 31 deadline) to have it completed. Getting ready to FINALLY put a For Sale sign on the house (in post-Corona-economy). Many decisions/assumptions made by my FIL at the time the trust was created 40’ish years ago should have been re-evaluated and adjusted…..i.e. like 1st born should be trustee JUST due to birth order….BAD IDEA!!! But hubby was like 12 years old at the time it was written :-) This whole experience has been eye-opening for DH & I. We NEVER want to put our kids through anything like this. Hope this effects some positive actions on your end as you wade through setting this up!

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14 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 6:39 am

Yes, indeed!! Thanks for putting your story out there for us!

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15 Kyris April 27, 2020 at 10:49 am

Good for you! It does feel good to know that it’s all taken care of. We’re in San Diego and I can tell you that $2500 is a good deal. ;) We actually have a cousin that specializes in wills and trusts and their rate is about $2800 for the whole package deal – including taking care of getting your property re-titled. Our bank let us just change the name on our bank accounts from our personal to the trust. Yes, we left the trust under my husbands SSN. Our brokerage account stayed the same as well and we made the trust the beneficiary/POD. Easy and accomplishes the same thing as getting new accounts. As stated by someone else, make sure you keep it updated. Especially the children part – who you want to care for them may change over time. Again – congratulations!

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16 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 6:41 am

Thanks! And you’re def. right on that updating part! Just set a calendar item per Andrea above to ping me every year at this time to ask me whether we need to update anything :)

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17 Norma April 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Why did you choose a warm body? Vs an online program, like tomorrow?

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18 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 6:46 am

Felt better and I had a million questions to ask and sort through :) NO matter who I talked to or what I found researching there seemed to be pros and cons on either sides (lawyer vs app, etc), and since we had the money to do it we felt like it was just best to do it the old fashioned way – especially since it was with someone local to us who we could sit down with face to face and go over things, as well as easily update things in the future.

If I were just starting out and didn’t have the funds for it (or all the kids, house, biz, etc) I probably would have opted for the cheaper more automated route – which I think is GREAT btw. 1,000x more people will be getting their wills set up because of them and I’m sure the process will only get better over time too!

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19 steveark April 27, 2020 at 12:27 pm

We redid ours last year, all the same stuff except with our grown kids there was no need for any kind of trust. We just have them listed as contingent beneficiaries on all our accounts so none of the significant assets go to probate and the will has no bearing on where the money goes. I know that isn’t the case for everybody but I executed my parents estate a few years ago and their trusts didn’t simplify the process at all, in fact they complicated things slightly. In our case it only cost $500 last year to do all the documents, but without a trust it was simpler so cheaper makes sense.

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20 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 6:50 am

Oh nice! Yeah, def. cheaper/easier without messing with the trust stuff.. Though wouldn’t you have to then take everything out of it and dissolve somehow?

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21 Mr. P2F April 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm

Hooray for you Jay! I remember going through the same process when our kids were younger and it was no picnic but so worth the effort. Now that our youngest is no longer a minor, it’s time to dust them off and revisit them. Shouldn’t be as taxing as we don’t need to make provisions for the welfare of the kids.

Reminder to your readers, when your kids become legal age, while they don’t generally need a Will, you should get them to obtain Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and complete a HIPAA release. Without them, when the unexpected happens, it’s so much more difficult to act on their behalf.

Again..congrats to accomplishing such an important milestone.

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22 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 6:51 am

Thanks for the tip!!

My kids will never grow up and always remain my sweet little angels, but good for other parents to know for sure ;)

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23 Jason April 28, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Great article, and happy to hear one of the experts is taking as long as I am to get around to it. :)

Can I ask who you went through? We’re considering an estate lawyer on Hood St in West Linn. Also wondering if I can convince my whole family (parents, siblings) to get on board, has anyone had any luck with a group discount? I’m not necessarily looking for a bargain (though it’s not cheap) but trying to lower one more hurdle keeping other family members from looking into it.

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24 J. Money April 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

Good idea on trying to get family involved!! Not only for their estates to be in order, but also for everyone to know *who* might be able to help them navigate in the event they can’t find any of your trust/will documents… An estate lawyer would be a good point of contact :)

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