My husband and I have one child and we need to make up a will. Can we just fill out a simple will form on our own, or should we get an attorney to draw it all up? And how do we choose someone if we need to get an attorney? Do you know a good one in CITY, STATE.
You need a will, but a lot more. You need powers, living wills and health care proxies, and an emergency child medical form (if you and your husband are away on a trip, who can take care of your child?). Look at the estate forms section of this web site for samples. You really should hire a lawyer. Most internet and software packages that prepare wills, really don't do the job. The tough question is your last one. How do you find the right attorney. You'll spend more but probably get a lot more value, from going to an estate planning specialist. However, its not always easy for a lay person to identify a good lawyer. Your best bet is to speak to other lawyers, or accountants, and get references in your area. Also, with the internet, google the names you get and see what comes up.
Also, its about more than just a will and estate planning documents. Have you started saving for college for your child? Even modest contributions each year to a 529 college savings plan (or perhaps a custodian account) could be really worthwhile. Compound interest over the years will make a huge impact on helping meet college costs.
How about insurance? Do you/your husband have sufficient life insurance in the event the worst happens? You really need to. Also, consider having the insurance owned by a trust (ILIT). If your wealth and income is not sufficient to justify or pay for an insurance trust, you might be able to name a trust formed under your wills as beneficiary. That will give the control and safety of a trust without any extra cost (your wills should have trusts in them in any event).
Don't forget disability insurance. If say your husband is the breadwinner and you're home with your young child, what will you live on if he becomes ill?
Not upbeat stuff, but the real stuff to look at to take care of yourselves and your child. Its about a lot more than a will. A good estate planner will be able to help you.
Look at some of the other forms, Q&As on this website, as well as sample forms. You can use this information and forms to figure out a lot of the decisions you have to make so when you sit down with a lawyer the meetings will be more efficient and cost effective. Also, the more you know the better you'll be able to ascertain if you really have a good attorney.
Sign up for the free e-newsletter on this website. Your question is really a good one, We'll try to do a lead article on it in the future.
Subscribe to our email list to receive information on consumer webcasts and blogs, for practical legal information in simple English, delivered to your inbox. For more professional driven information, please visit Shenkman Law to subscribe.