Creating a Will or a Living Trust — Deja Vu Episode 176

How do you create a will or a trust (especially if you don’t have the money for a lawyer).

Original Episode was 015:

Other things that might interest you

Producer: Drew Erickson

make a list of all your accounts and the phone number
[00:00:00.170] – Hilary Erickson

Hey, guys.

[00:00:00.530] – Hilary Erickson

Welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on episode 176, we are doing our first replay. I’m finding some of the episodes that I think are most important that I’ve done in season one, and I’m sharing them again. So let’s untangle it.

[00:00:24.890] – Hilary Erickson

Hi, I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast: pregnancy and parenting untangled. There’s no right answer for every family, but on this show, we hope to give you some ideas to make life simpler at your house. Life tangled, just like my hair.

[00:00:46.910] – Hilary Erickson

So why did I pick this episode to reshare?

[00:00:49.380] – Hilary Erickson

First off, it’s pretty darn popular still, and it is something that’s still super important. Also in this episode, I share what to do if hiring a paralegal or a lawyer is out of your price range. And I think that’s really important beyond actually having the trust, because there are a lot of things you can just do that don’t cost money. Although having the trust is something you should be saving for. So let’s listen in to Hilary in season one.

[00:01:14.730] – Hilary Erickson

So at the time of recording, I am 43, and I just was feeling those years tick away and I saw horrible things happen to people around me and I started to get really worried about what would happen if something happened to me. And I just had molded over for a long time.

[00:01:33.630] – Hilary Erickson

And I kind of asked on Facebook, hey, does anybody have a will? And it was like crickets. Like, a lot of people really wanted a will, but most people didn’t have them. A lot of people had a will. So let’s talk a little bit about a will and what a will is good for. And then also we’re going to talk today about a living trust and what a living trust is good for. So we had a will. I should say we had a will.

[00:01:53.570] – Hilary Erickson

We got a free one through I think it’s giving docs where you can assign who’s supposed to get the money after you die and a guardian for your children. And wills are pretty easy. There’s a lot of places to make a will online. And so I would 100% recommend that anyone who has children has a will that sets up who the guardian of your child should be should you pass away.

[00:02:13.740] – Hilary Erickson

But a will isn’t enough. And I didn’t really know that. I’d heard all these people who had a trust and it sounded so fancy, like you would only need a trust if you had a million dollars to give to your kids. But it turns out everybody who owns a home pretty much needs a living trust.

[00:02:30.770] – Hilary Erickson

So if you are young and you have a baby and you rent and you have just 401 KS, you’re probably good with a will. But once you buy a house, if you start a business, anything like that, a living trust is going to be your best bet because it helps you avoid probate, which I don’t even understand. I’m not going to get into that.

[00:02:46.930] – Hilary Erickson

All I know is that a living trust helps avoid that. And the money and the things within the trust can just go to the members of the trust if the main members, aka. Myself and my husband were to die. Also, if I die, I get access to all those things. Although pretty much all of that is in both of our names. And I would 100% recommend that bank accounts, all that kind of stuff should be in both people’s names.

[00:03:09.620] – Hilary Erickson

Even if you have your own bank account, your husband should be on it. Just if, heaven forbid, you were to die, then he can have access to it. I was looking around and it was just so disheartening. I was calling law offices and I was looking at $1.5 thousand to about $3,000.

[00:03:27.220] – Hilary Erickson

And I’m thinking that after I looked at what we were going to need done, it would have been close to $3,000 to have a living will set up. And that was a good amount of our savings at that point in time. I mean, the the crappy thing is you start to make money, but then you have to spend $3,000 just to protect that kind of money, which I think is crap, but that’s a podcast for another day.

[00:03:46.060] – Hilary Erickson

So I just felt like $3,000 was maybe a little much for us at that point in time. But again, I really wanted to make sure that we were taken care of. So then I started looking online. I looked at legal zoom. There’s another one called Will and Trust that just does Wills and Trust, which if I had to do it online, I think I would probably go with them.

[00:04:02.030] – Hilary Erickson

I’m going to put the link in the show notes, but also with them, they’ll be like, you can start a living trust for $400. But then if you have a payment business, it’s going to be I don’t even know if they do the business, but if you have a home, then it’s like another $400.

[00:04:15.620] – Hilary Erickson

I couldn’t believe the add on fees. So that’s something to watch for as you go if you were to do it online, which I think is viable. Honestly, it was just really overwhelming for me at that time. And so we went with another option. But I do think that the online option is definitely viable, especially if you don’t have a lot of complicated stuff. If you just have a home, 401, KS, some basic assets, the living will should be plenty.

[00:04:38.190] – Hilary Erickson

But we when I asked online, suddenly I had a friend who my friend Betsy. Hello. Betsy mentioned that she had used a paralegal. The paralegal is about an hour away, but I called her and it was like $800, which seemed a lot more doable now. When we added all the other things on, it ended up being close to $1,000 because she also helped us move our LLC into our trust.

[00:05:00.770] – Hilary Erickson

And so it ended up being about $1,000. But she did a lot of work. We could have actually put the LLC into the trust on our own, but we just asked her to do it for us. And it was another one to $200 to have her do that. But I wasn’t really aware that a paralegal could drop documents like this. Now when you sign up with a paralegal, she makes it very clear that she’s not a lawyer and she can’t give legal advice, but she does still help you as you walk through the things.

[00:05:24.070] – Hilary Erickson

So it was really nice to have some handholding, but that handholding wasn’t super expensive like a lawyer would be. So what is a living trust? It basically puts all of our assets into one pot after we were to die. So everything our kids and their guardians or whatever could draw out of that pot in order to keep their lives going. And so they’re not going to have to go to all of these different places. It’s just automatically in the trust and that is awesome. And they’re not going to have to go to court, which I guess is a thing after you die.

[00:05:54.920] – Hilary Erickson

Again, don’t know much about that, but it sounds horrible. So what is the caveat of the living trust? Now, the lady who drew up our living will did an excellent job, but I honestly have to tell you that the worst part about having a living trust is that you have to put all of the things into the trust, which means you have to contact every 401k, which I am a serial job 401k creator. So that was a big, fat pain.

[00:06:18.780] – Hilary Erickson

Although I took this time to actually condense all of my 401 KS, so I had been meaning to do that. After you leave a job, they can start to charge fees or whatever. So I moved them all, all of my 401 KS into one spot. So that was pretty awesome. But you have to call all your banks, you have to go to 401 KS, any retirement, you have to do all of these things. And that was kind of painful. So that’s just something to be aware of even once you have the legal document drawn up and the trust is created, then you have to go back and talk to all these people and get the things placed into the trust.

[00:06:51.010] – Hilary Erickson

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t have access to my bank account. The trust is actually like you put on your items, your beneficiary. So the trust is actually my beneficiary on all of my accounts. So instead of having to name each child and then also my mom, who used to be the guardian of my kids, now I just name the trust. And then the living will says how that money will be dispersed.

[00:07:11.650] – Hilary Erickson

Although I will say that she helped file the paperwork for our home, which seems a little bit more complicated than I would want to do, and also our LLC, which again, is more complicated than I’d want to do. So those kinds of things were nice. And like I said before, they often charge extra for those things if you use zoom or will and trust.

[00:07:28.400] – Hilary Erickson

Now, the other good thing about a living trust is they often include a living will, which is different than a living trust and HIPAA papers. And so a living will is where you make decisions if you were like ever in a vegetative state for your spouse to turn off life support or stuff like that.

[00:07:43.170] – Hilary Erickson

So it’s really nice to talk through that, get it out of the way. That’s part of our will. So it’s in with all those documents anyway. We can give it to any medical provider that we have, and that just shows what our wishes are if we were in a place where we could to make choices for ourselves. Side note, my husband is my living will carry outer. I was considering having a friend, a nurse friend, do it because I was afraid he wouldn’t pull the plug. But he totally said he would pull the plug, which I don’t know if that’s good news or bad news.

[00:08:07.680] – Hilary Erickson

Anyway, totally important. Everyone needs a living will. You can draw up a living will without a lawyer. You can definitely do that on legal Zoom or something like that. We even have papers to do it in the hospital, I believe. Just have to have it like sound by a notary, so that’s pretty awesome. The other thing that was really important, which I hadn’t really thought of, is these HIPAA papers. Now, HIPAA is the thing that helped privacy something of other. So I can only talk to the mom, really about her medical condition.

[00:08:31.950] – Hilary Erickson

Now, if other people in the room, I just ask the mom, is it okay if everyone’s in here while I talk to you about what’s going on with your care? And usually they’re fine with that. But if for some reason my son was, like, in a vegetative state, well, I would be able to learn a little bit about him because I am his mom. But if he was just, like, hurt, then I wouldn’t be able to learn about it because I’m no longer his guardian. He’s 19.

[00:08:55.170] – Hilary Erickson

And so something I realized that would be really smart is to have him fill out HIPAA papers for me, that I can get his help and information if he ever needed me to help make medical decisions, which is officially my job at the house. That’s what I do, is I help make medical decisions. Okay? Now, you might be sitting there thinking, well, this is all well and good, but I don’t have a thousand lying around to create a living will. Now, one option is to do it online, and I think that’s totally viable. I know with legal zoom and those, they have a lawyer on call for you that you can talk to about filling out the paperwork.

[00:09:27.150] – Hilary Erickson

And so it really is a great option. But if you’re not quite ready to do that, let me tell you a few things that you can do, especially as we head into the new year. This could definitely, definitely be an awesome resolution for you. First off, you are going to want to make a will if you don’t already have one. I’ll put a link in the show notes. It’s called giving docs. They all offer free wills.

[00:09:44.710] – Hilary Erickson

You can email it to like the guardian that you pick for your kids so that they have a copy of it and all that kind of stuff. So you can easily make a will online. It shouldn’t cost a ton of money and it will just mostly with your kids. It’ll detail who gets your kids.

[00:09:57.200] – Hilary Erickson

But if you’re ready to go beyond that, which I think you should, the other thing I would recommend is to make a document with the last four of all your accounts, the last four digits of all of your account numbers, along with the phone numbers. Now, this includes retirement checking account, savings accounts. Anywhere you have an account, write down those last four of the account number and the phone number for the institution where you have that account.

[00:10:23.370] – Hilary Erickson

That is a great start. I know a lot of us are worried that somebody’s going to find that, but I think you can just do it on a paper and have it in a filing cabinet as long as your family knows where it is. But it’s important to have all that in one spot because when I really thought about it, we had retirement from all over the place and so it was difficult to even find those accounts and remember everything that we have. I was constantly like, oh yeah, I do have that other 1401K over there.

[00:10:48.670] – Hilary Erickson

And again, I consolidated, which is super important. And we’ll make it easier if I were to die for my family to do all these things. You also want to get your parcel number for the land that you own and that kind of stuff. And you also want to have your life insurance policy number, again with a phone number all in that document. Now, this document is a great place to get started and it’s also something that you’re going to need when you go to create the living trust. So that is a great place to start as you start to save towards creating the living trust.

[00:11:18.040] – Hilary Erickson

So Drew and I did this. We were actually headed on a plane and I was worried because I do have an uncle that died in a plane crash and so I was nervous about us being on the same plane. We have actually never traveled on the same plane together without kids and so we were able to get it done pretty quickly. But it was like a full time job that week, trying to get it all ready and answering her emails and stuff like that.

[00:11:38.570] – Hilary Erickson

And so I just think it’s so important. I think it’s something that people just ignore, and it’s really easy to ignore because I don’t like to think about my kids being on this Earth without me. But what I really wouldn’t like is my kids being on this Earth without me and them not being able to access the money and the funds that I’ve saved should anything happen. So I just felt really good and really safe once it was all done, that they would be taken care of if something should happen to us. So that is a nice sphere to kind of have out of the way. Okay, hopefully you guys enjoyed this replay.

[00:12:06.690] – Hilary Erickson

Stay tuned, because next week we are talking about what happens right after the baby is born and the week after that I am sharing all the things that I love to do with my kids that it seems like everyone else hated. So stay tuned.

[00:12:17.310] – Hilary Erickson

Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. The Pulling Curls Podcast grows when you share us on social media or leave a review. If you do, please tag us so that we can share and send you a virtual hug, which, frankly, is my favorite kind of hugging. Until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.

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