How to make a will better?
August 18, 2009 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Got any tips for creating a will for new parents?

We plan to get a lawyer, this is so we are more prepared when we speak with them. If anyone know a good lawyer in or around Eugene, OR, that'd be handy too.

As the parents of a new child, we've suddenly become aware that a will would likely be a good idea.
One child, fairly standard estate.
We'll likely set up a guardianship for the child with financial oversight separate.

Looking for things that you may have found useful in setting up your own will or executing someone else's.
Sort of those little things that make a big difference.
Things you may appreciated when you were the beneficiary of a will or specific items to include or exclude.
posted by madajb to Law & Government (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Nolo press?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:08 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Make sure you also set up powers of attorney and health care directives, and make sure that your guardian and the person you designate as financial overseer are both aware of your decision and of each other.

Keep in mind that you can always change these things--for many years we felt that my younger sister was not in a stable enough place in her life to act as guardian for our children, but things change over time and we recently changed our wills to reflect our wish that she receive physical guardianship of our daughters.

In my experience with estate planning, the POA and HCD were part of the package, although we also set up a trust at the same time.
posted by padraigin at 3:11 PM on August 18, 2009

My parents made their will after my oldest sibling was born and it said something like "all assets to be divided evenly between [first child] and future progeny", which made it not super-urgent to update the will after each of the rest of us were born, while still including the rest of us. Might want to consider something like that.
posted by brainmouse at 3:18 PM on August 18, 2009

I know the Nolo stuff is widely used, but we went to a family law/estate planning attorney, and I feel it was money well spent. The whole thing -- creating a trust, transference of our deed into the trust, writing separate wills for me and my wife, durable powers of attorney, health care directives, etc., was $2500, which seemed fair, given the amount of paperwork involved. YMMV, but we were happy to pay a professional to help us with the process.
posted by mosk at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2009

A very small, but very useful bit of advice that we received was to keep the legal directives as clear and simple as possible, and then to include, as informal attachments, more specific letters addressed to pertinent parties. For example, a letter to the guardian explaining our wishes for grandparent/friends/relative visitation, schooling, other personal wishes so that in the event a judge would need to intervene on some issue, the parents' wishes on such matters had been recorded. Going into it, you will be unable to stop thinking about all the things you want to "make sure of" but many of those things are not necessarily appropriate for wills or guardianship and estate documents. A notarized letter can get as detailed and state as many reasons for your directives as you wish.
posted by rumposinc at 3:48 PM on August 18, 2009

Good advice here, but it's all stuff that a good attorney will tell you.

The most important advice I can give you is how to find this good lawyer. I suggest that you call a few attorneys you know - who don't practice in T&E (or if you don't know any, go to your local bar association) and ask for at least THREE recommendations for T&E attorneys. Ask a bunch of other lawyers for their advice too, and put the lists side by side. The attorney who's recommended most is the first phone interview, the attorney with the second most recommendations is second, etc. Ask them a couple of questions, and see if they answer in a way you find acceptable. Follow your gut on these interviews. If someone rubs you the wrong way, it's no good. You're essentially trusting your kids' future to these guys. You want to make sure that they're good.

Good luck. I wish I had a recommendation for you but I don't know anyone practicing in Oregon.
posted by MeetMegan at 4:14 PM on August 18, 2009

Oh, and T&E is trusts and estates.
posted by MeetMegan at 4:15 PM on August 18, 2009

If you are separating the guardianship from the financial you might consider some way of compensating the guardian for expenses they will incur by raising your child(ren) including an addition to their home or purchasing another home to accommodate the additional children, summer camp, college education, etc.
posted by Flacka at 4:28 PM on August 18, 2009

Does Oregon law provide for a temporary custodian?

Once in a while, parents find the need to designate a person who is authorized to make medical and personal decisions for their child - think a month-long cruise, trip to Europe, etc. - but who would otherwise not be authorized to act.
posted by megatherium at 8:26 PM on August 18, 2009

Response by poster: NOLO is interesting, and we have some of their books from the library, but the final will is going to be left up to an attorney.

Flacka -n The plan is to have some sort of lump sum payment in the beginning, and then a monthly stipend thereafter.
Ideas on how to determine a proper amount are also welcomed.

MeetMegan - We don't know any attorneys, so we've been soliciting recommendations from friends at the moment.

megatherium - I honestly don't know, but I'll look into it.

rumposinc - A good idea.
posted by madajb at 11:03 PM on August 18, 2009

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