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Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Lawyers

When we become parents, it becomes all the more important to plan for the future, including a future for our children that may not include us.  An urbanMama recently emailed to see if the rest of the urbanMamas community would share their insight and recommendations:

Well, we're now the parents of TWO children, ages 5 and 0.5, and we STILL haven't done our wills and all that ancillary and extremely important legal stuff to protect them if we die. It's a daunting prospect to figure that all out, but it is certainly past time to have gotten the ball rolling.

So...any urbanMamas out there who have used a family-friendly and knowledgeable lawyer that they can recommend? What did it cost? And what documents and services did you get for that cost? Any and all advice/recommendations would be appreciated!

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Charles C. Reynolds
1800$ for two wills and two power of attorney declarations in case one of us becomes a vegetable.

I'm shocked when I meet parents who haven't made up a will. Your kids are counting on you to protect them, even if you are gone. Don't you want to pick your child's guardians? Do you really trust the state courts to decide for you? (shudder)

I got myself in gear on this when my younger brother had a medical emergency - everything turned out fine, but it was a wake up call on getting documents in order. I just used some library books (NOLO press is especially good) and online resources for a basic will, plus medical directive (my partner and I aren't married so we needed to do the whole designating each other as decision makers if we are incapacitated, etc.) and power of attorney.

You can do all that on your own - there are some basic templates. But yes, definitely do it soon.

If you go to nolo.com (Nolo Press) you can use their online software to make an Oregon-specific will for $70. Print it off, have it notarized at your bank for free, and it's completely valid and uncontestable. Also only took about 30 minutes.

Okay, if you do it yourself...but make several copies and have them all notarized. Do not store them in your safety deposit box... no one can get to them. Send one to a trusted friend. Send one to the children's guardian. Tell the babysitter where your fireproof box is holding one of your copies at home.

My husband is a family law attorney and generates will and does estate planning quite often. I'm not sure how much they charge for everything you're asking for, but give them a call - everyone is super friendly and loves kids!

Mike McGrath
Gearing, Rackner & Engle
www.gre-law.com
503-222-9116

Bernt Jacobsen
www.bernlaw.com

He specializes in estate planning, was very helpful and (as I recall, I don't have the figures in front of me) his rates were competitive.

That url was supposed to be:
www.berntlaw.com

Forgive me if this comment is posted more than once, I seem to be having some challenges with it!

Bernt Jacobsen
www.berntlaw.com

He was very helpful,specializes in wills and estates, and charges competitive rates.

I am a devoted urbanMamas reader (my son is 2) and a lawyer mama who works in this area of law. I love working with young families like mine and I would be honored if you entrusted me with this important task. The cost for simple wills focused on guardianship of children, power of attorneys and advance directives is $1,200.
My name is Trina Montalban. My law firm is: Kell, Alterman & Runstein. My phone is (503) 222-3531. And, the website is: http://www.kelrun.com/tMontalban.htm.

I have a question in regards to this topic as well: My partner and I aren't married and in the case that I die, I would like for someone other than him and/or his family to become her guardian. (Please no judgments- I'm not saying I don't want him to be part of her life, just saying I would like her everyday care and financial costs to be with someone else, for her own safety.) My question is: Do I have the ability to do this? Does he have a say? We've not discussed this, and I'm obviously asking in the case that he doesn't agree.. Any info is helpful! Thanks

I am so not a lawyer. But my understanding was that the surviving biological parent gets first "dibs" as long as their rights haven't been terminated, regardless of what a will says. Especially if that parent has a relationship with that child.

That was in the 90's, so maybe that has changed.

Mama Looking for Info. One big question would be is she the biological child of your partner or has she been adopted by your partner.

You should contact a lawyer about this. Most lawyers are willing to do free consultations with people to decide if and how they can assist.

On a separate note, if mamas do have general questions about wills, guardianships and survivorship plans, I would be willing to ask my firm if I could host a relaxed roundtable for moms/parents, where moms could ask basic questions about what these legal documents can and can't do without worrying about a hard sell. If people are interested in a round table like this, I will ask my firm about it.

Candice Aiston http://candiceaistonlawblog.typepad.com/

She a mom, she's a lawyer, she's an estate planner, and she's awesome. She's also been hosting a series of workshops to help motivate, educate and inspire people to take those first steps towards getting that estate planned. I can't say enough good things about her.

Our lawyer was Cordell Post (who has sinced moved to Albany OR). Our joint will and power of attorney cost about $450 six years ago. The great thing about Cordell is that, as a father himself, he offered to come to our house for our meetings. I will never forget how much less stressful that made things, as we didn't have anyone to watch our 3yo and I was nursing a newborn at the time.

Cordell Post? I went to high school with him. I never would have pegged him as becomming an attorney. Good for him!!!

We used a lawyer who made it very easy to get everything done. Here's her contact info:
Denise L. Stern
Attorney at Law
7430 SE Milwaukie Avenue
Portland, OR
503.231.9340-p

She charged us $650 for a will which included power of attorney. The hardest part was deciding what would happen to our kids if both of us died. We met with her twice at her office and had one conversation over the phone to clarify some things. The whole process was much less painful than I thought it would be and it feels very good to have it done.

Trina/Lawyer Mama ~
Courtney here - we met at Red Star. We have a working moms group at the city and have been looking for someone to talk to us as you described - around table/info session. We meet the first Wed of the month at noon. Let's get in touch off line. Thanks!

I just got the Suze Orman Will & Trust Kit CD ROM and I highly recommend it. It's something you can do immediately and legally for about $20. Maybe follow up with the $1800 version later. I was very impressed with the Suze Orman program.

Hi, my name is Candice Aiston. I'm an estate planning attorney for families. (Thanks for mentioning me, Sara!) No matter who you choose as your family's attorney, you should try to attend one of my free seminars for parents, called "Getting Your Ducks in a Row." The next one I'm holding is at Zenana Spa on Saturday, February 21st. See my website for details or call my office at (503) 235-5150.

The reason that I started holding these seminars is because I found that parents who came to see me really didn't know what they need in order to protect their children and their assets.

If you don't have time to attend a seminar, you should go to my website and read my free report: "The 9 Planning Mistakes Parents Make."

Congratulations, by the way, for getting started on this! Did you know that around 70% of parents don't even have a will!

To your family's health & prosperity,

Candice

Mama looking for info,

The law says that if one biological parent dies, the surviving biological parent automatically has sole custody. You can certainly control any money you leave behind (by setting up a trust and appointing a trustee), but you have little control over the custodial arrangement if one parent is still living.

Hope that helps.

Candice

St Andrew Legal Clinic on Alberta has a sliding scale, for those like myself that cannot pay thousands for documents!

I would recommend the largest law firm in the USA with top rated law firms based in each state & Canada for a life events legal plan.
Your membership includes:
Two living Wills
Power of Attorney
Medical Affidavit
Document reviews
Phone calls
Tax Audit attorney
Moving Traffic Violation Attorney services
24hour credit monitoring
Professional Identity Theft restoration
24 hour emergency access to an Attorney
much more...
Cost: $16 - $35 per month
Limitations: month to month service; no long term contract
Endorsed by former Attorney Generals, & former President of the BAR association.

My family has used this service a hand full of times. In the first month we had our Wills, medical affidavit, PoA, had a letter send to a company who would not refund our business & received $2000 check from the company who owed us, had an attorney go to traffic court in Goldendale, WA and he won the case for us! We only paid 30.00 for the membership for all those services!
Please watch this documentary for more info:
http://www.ppllive.biz/info
More details about the coverage:
http://www.greatlegalhelp.com

Please contact the independent rep in Portland for membership with Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.

Mr. Shane Wetzel
503-341-8390
life.leveraged@gmail.com

Cheers,
Adeah

I would recommend the largest law firm in the USA with top rated law firms based in each state & Canada for a life events legal plan.
Your membership includes:
Two living Wills
Power of Attorney
Medical Affidavit
Document reviews
Phone calls
Tax Audit attorney
Moving Traffic Violation Attorney services
24hour credit monitoring
Professional Identity Theft restoration
24 hour emergency access to an Attorney
much more...
Cost: $16 - $35 per month
Limitations: month to month service; no long term contract
Endorsed by former Attorney Generals, & former President of the BAR association.

My family has used this service a hand full of times. In the first month we had our Wills, medical affidavit, PoA, had a letter send to a company who would not refund our business & received $2000 check from the company who owed us, had an attorney go to traffic court in Goldendale, WA and he won the case for us! We only paid 30.00 for the membership for all those services!
Please watch this documentary for more info:
http://www.ppllive.biz/info
More details about the coverage:
http://www.greatlegalhelp.com

Please contact the independent rep in Portland for membership with Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc.

Mr. Shane Wetzel
503-341-8390
life.leveraged@gmail.com

Cheers,
Adeah

I used Jim Shikany to do Wills and power of attorney for myself and my husband. He is a friend -- and very family friendly. He certainly can help most families with putting together a Will, Power of Attorney and give them the forms for an Advance Directive. For most Wills, he has a basic information sheet that he will send out for folks to complete, then he sits down with the parents and goes over the information he needs to prepare the Will and answer questions they may have regarding their Will. He then will schedule a followup meeting to sign documents. His official office is in Clackamas. However, he tries to work with folks and regularly meet parents/clients at their house or a local coffee shop in town since he lives in NE. He is even willing to travel to Washington County:) He does not usually schedule morning appointments since he takes care of his identical twin daughters until noon Monday thru Thursday, but he does schedule early evening appointments (5pm to 7pm) and has been known on rare occasion to meet on a weekend. He charges $650 for a set of Wills, Power of Attorney and provide the forms for Advance Directive. For single parents he charges $450. Jim's contact information is:

James Shikany
Attorney at Law
13100 SE Sunnyside Road, Suite B
Clackamas, Oregon 97015
Tele: 503-698-9808
Fax: 503-210-8344
shikanylaw@hotmail.com

Candice, Thanks for all the great information. I'm having trouble finding the details of the seminar at Zenana on the 21st. When is it?

Hello all,

I am a mother of two young children in NE Portland and an attorney who specializes in basic estate planning for young families (and yes, I happily offer home visits for busy parents!) I am also co-leader of the local Mothers & More chapter, and will be giving a talk on this very subject at this month's general meeting on Tuesday, February 17 (7-8 pm at Old Wives Tale restaurant, 13th and Burnside).

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact me directly: katharinewest@yahoo.com or 971-212-8071.

Thank you!

MamaJoy - Candice's seminar is on the 21st at 2PM
http://www.candiceaistonlaw.com/events.html

I have been reading these comments and just thought I would add that people should look into life insurance, we did this at the same time as our wills, etc. We just have a term policy right now and it is very reasonable. It seems that it is easier, and potentially a little cheaper, to get a good policy when you are younger (we are in our mid 30's). I can also second the folks who have said that they feel better knowing this stuff is done (keep in mind you can always make changes, i.e. guardianship) - we did all of the necessary paperwork before an out-of-country vacation. My parents said our son couldn't stay with them while we were gone unless we got everything taken care of in case we didn't make it home - in retrospect, I appreciate how wise that was.

www.legalzoom.com
I think it was under $200 for both mine and my husband's wills (we each did our own). The only drawback was they need to be notarized with several witnesses that aren't related to you or mentioned in the will. That was tricky to organize, but legalzoom.com was super easy.

I recently found an excellent book to get up to speed on this topic written by a lawyer/mom called "Wear Clean Underwear." The book was a quick read with stories in a choose-your-own adventure style to guide you through scenarios of what happens if do (or don't have) legal directives in place. It's given me a better understanding of what we need to talk to a lawyer about to be sure our son is taken care of if something were to happen to either of us. I'd highly recommend the book.

There is also a corresponding website with some basic steps for naming guardians for your kids (for free). I'm planning to visit a lawyer with my newfound knowledge from the book, but the website does have a simple process to atleast get guardianship in place.

Depending on where you live, you can find estate planning lawyers on Avvo: http://www.avvo.com/estate-planning-lawyer.html

Trina here again. I am now at a law firm that focuses solely on estate planning and administration, Cavanaugh, Levy, Bilyeu, LLP. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to call or email me. (503) 517-8793 or trina@clblaw.net.

This is just the information that I am looking for thank you so much urbanmama community!!

In estate planning, it is essential that we must choose our lawyer wisely and have a good relationship with that lawyer. A good lawyer will protect you from unscrupulous scenarios.

Trina here again. My new contact information is:
Email: trina@pdxestatelaw.com
Phone: (503) 858-3861
Website: www.pdxestatelaw.com

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