Thursday, October 7, 2010

Debts After Death

As usual, the AARP provides helpful information regarding estate planning issues. For a useful article about what to do when a loved one leaves behind debt, read Debt After Death: Are you Responsible for a Relative's Unpaid Bills by Cathie Gandel.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Online Do-It-Yourself Wills

Perhaps, not surprisingly, this writer-attorney is not in favor of the online will. Give me a chance to explain before you chalk it up to the writer's bias. I get calls all the time asking me to review a person's online will to make sure it is valid. I refuse. It will take me longer to review a will that is pages and pages of legal jargon aimed at covering every law in the country than drafting a five-page will that only has to meet the standards of Wisconsin for a Wisconsin resident. Worse yet, I would have to bill for my time; thus, making that cheap online will more expensive. Even worse yet, I have yet to find an online will that didn't need to be revised to meet my client's goals.

A will is meant to deal with assets that fall into probate. Filling out an online questionnaire that generates a will does not help you plan for estate tax consequences or avoid probate. Simply put, garbage in, garbage out.

If you want to keep costs low, shop around. Most estate planning attorneys charge based on the value or complexity of your estate. Some charge flat rates. Others charge by the hour. Ask up front. If you don't have much, it should not cost much. Also, get your health care power of attorney, living will, and durable power of attorney done as well. See prior posts for reasons why these documents are so important.

Just like an online will, this blog is no replacement for legal advice from an attorney who knows your circumstances. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog.

Attorney Katie Babe
Lakeland Law Firm, LLC
N27 W23957 Paul Road
Suite 206
Pewaukee, WI 53072