Trusts & Estates Law/Where do we start?
QUESTION: Hello, my husband and I are in our sixties and we want to leave our two daughters our home after we die. I really do not have any idea where to start. We have only the two daughters. Our home is almost paid for and will be in about 4 years. We have two cars and a small amount of debt. Where do we start? We have told the girls that we will leave the house to both of them. I think one will want it, so our thought is that they will pay the other for 1/2 of the house. What is the best way to avoid having a lot of expense and fees for them? Our house is worth about $150000 and we live in Arkansas. I would greatly appreciate any info you give. Thank you.
ANSWER: You simply need a will drafted where you live that specifies your desires and one for your husband. It will say that upon the first death, the spouse gets the house and on the second, the girls, equally. Simple as that. Use an attorney not some downloadable form. You should be fine.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I know I sound totally ignorant, because I am. I have never had to deal with this before. Will this avoid probate? What about paying my debts, if I have any. If we should die before the house is paid for, what would happen then? Do you have any idea how much an attorney would charge for this service? Thank you so much!
No a will won't avoid probate, but that's ok. You can avoid probate using a trust but you need a good reason to do so. The debts are paid from the estate and are not obligations of your heirs. If you leave debt on the house, they can either pay the payments (although the lender is the one to ask about that, and they may never find out about your deaths). Or they can sell the house to avoid the payments. Will can run $750 to $1500 or more. Both of you also need a power of attorney for healthcare and another for financial decisions. This could cause more problems than not having a will. Every city or county has a lawyer referral service. They normally give you a discount for the first 1/2 hour or hour. Dying without a will is NOT something you want to do. It is called dying "intestate" and is a mess for your heirs.
If you don't have any luck, I can use some software I have to create a set of documents for Arkansas. I charge $500 for all six documents - the wills, and the two powers of attorney for each of you. An attorney is my first choice.