How much should a couple pay for Wills, etc

Probate in Texas in 2012 and 2014 was fairly simple, straight forward, and not overly expensive. It was even simpler and less expensive in Arizona, but the cost differences could partially be different attorneys.

Timewise, Arizona requires that probate be completed within two years; I don’t know if Texas has a similar requirement, but the three estates i was involved with there took far less time than that.

Arizona and Texas both require probate; it is not optional. Probate ensures that the estate pays any debts the decedant owes unless the decedant has no funds. I’m fairly sure a trust would not be able to bypass paying the debt. Yes, probate publishes the death, and gives an address for debts to be sent… I don’t recall the length of time… I think for 2 to 4 weeks in Arizona… If someone doesn’t present a debt within a specific timeframe, it becomes invalid.

And the house would probably remain empty? This is the problem my broker friend warned me about.

Not necessarily. I suppose if there was a dispute it could be an issue, but depending on how the home is titled (right of survivorship) and/or deeded (beneficiary deed), it could be inherited outside of probate. And I would assume the executor/administrator of the estate would be legally allowed to allow access to one or more of the heirs, or to rent/lease the home.

Probably so, but that’s in addition to a will?

It looks there are streamlined probate procedures in Texas in simple, uncontested situations, where the court blesses the will and the executor at a high level, and doesn’t dig it the details… they basically say “make it so!”. That would be great. I will ask the lawyer when we meet.

In my experience in real estate and personal experience in dealing with estate settlements, “simple, uncontested situations” sometimes disappear in a heartbeat. They are replaced with complex and expensive legal procedures called lawsuits.

Well, I won’t around to care. All of the financial accounts are covered by beneficiary designations, which get applied before a will or trust. House we own jointly, cars we own jointly, personal effects that’s it. When I go the kids can fight over whatever, I won’t care. I won’t see it.

I recommend you revisit that decision, those fights can leave lifelong scars. A good trust circumvents most of that.


Do you really want that? I know my parent’s didn’t, but my brother and I haven’t spoken in well over seven years. If our parents had been more explicit in setting up plans for their choices for when they could no longer be independent instead of literally saying, “oh, you’ll know what to do” it would have helped preserve our relationship. I know this isn’t quite will/trust, but it is definitely in the same line of end-of-life decisions and planning.


When a property is purchased or changes hands, if there are multiple owners, there are two basic ways the property can be deeded.

For married couples, the usual is joint tenants with right of survivorship (may have different terminology in different states). In this case, the survivor of the couple inherits the deceased’s interest in the property.

The other common method is tenants in common: when one of the owners dies, their interest is conveyed as their will states, or by the precedence according to state law. No directly to other owners.

It is possible to change the method of deeding, but would require legal paperwork, at least from a title company, if not an attorney

Not all states recognize beneficiary deeds. In Arizona, there is specific language that needs to be written (it is listed in the statute), signed and notarized, and then recorded. It can be revoked or altered by the same means. No attorney is required.

Years ago, as my older sister’s health was failing, she wanted me to be the executer of her will, and in charge of dividing her assets among her four adult children.

Ah, no thanks, sis, get a Trust. [she did]

An executor does not typically have any choices in how to distribute assets, only in when they are distributed based upon progress of probate. That said, personal property (the things in the junk drawer, clothing, knick knacks, china, silverware, furniture, etc.) are often not accounted for in a will or cocidal, and are often some of items that have the most emotional attachment by heirs.

Understood, but her will merely said assets to be divided equally. No specifics. It would have been my unfortunate roll to determine, “equally”.

Easy to do with funds; not so easy to do with property.

The best thing to have is a Living Trust, not just two Wills, etc. With a Living Trust, you can eliminate probate issues later on and your estate monies won’t go toward probate attorneys. Living Trusts can vary in price depending on the complexity of the assets of the estate, but there are good and not so good estate planning attorneys, so make sure you get some good recommendations and call around before you set up your initial consultation.

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You need a Living Trust to do it right.

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The specific type of trust will depend what state you live in and what you want to accomplish with it.

They include marital trusts, disclaimer trusts, remainder trusts, living trusts, etc. They are usually hybrids and may convert from revocable to irrevocable.