Can she amend her old Will to add properties and also does she need a Trust? My 3 siblings and I will have to divide 9 properties and in today's market the values could be hard to determine as well as change in the next 10 years. How then is it best to handle this prior to her death? I went to an estae attorney w her a year ago and he said, "It will be a mess!"? Help!
Elder Law Attorney
What mess? Go find a reputable estate attorney in your area. There would not generally be a need to change a will any time property is acquired. However, an estate plan should be updated every now again. Mom should have hers reviewed.
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It does have some mess potential, but a good estate planning attorney should help get it straightened out. Assuming your mother still is mentally able to go through the process, all of our will benefit from having an updated and clear document. Although you did not provide values of the properties, it may be that a living trust is a good solution. The current will applies to assets she did not have at the time she wrote it. It may not go to whom she wants, but rather fall into the residuary provisions. I suggest you review some of the legal guides available on this site and plan on another consult with a local estate planning attorney that can help clean this up. Good luck!
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Divorce / Separation Lawyer
If a lawyer said it will be a mess either you (1) left a lot out, (2) saw a really bad lawyer or (3) misunderstood. A good lawyer can easily draft a will to divide properties amongst several siblings, and, absent unusual circumstances, probably can do it without trusts (depending on the details). Generally you do NOT want to amend an old will (that is called a codicil) as it creates TWO documents to probate and reconcile. There's no way for anyone to know how good or bad the existing will is without reading it but a 20 year will certainly needs review. I'd be glad to look at it if you don't already have a lawyer. My number is 404-768-3509. Obviously we need more detail than your post to evaluate what is best for her.
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A will that is that old is likely to not property reflect the realities of her estate at this time. What you describe doesn't sound like a mess, but it does sound like she needs estate planning. A trust may be indicated depending on a variety of factors and what she wants to accomplish. Georgia probate is not that difficult, so you don't necessarily need a trust just to avoid probate.
You are so lucky to have your mom still here and still competent at 85! You did not mention whether the properties are in different states. I would strongly advise a trust if there are multiple states because that would mean probate in each one. It is easy to move real estate into a trust once it is created. Assuming that all the properties are here in Georgia, either a Will or a Trust might do. The desire to wait out the real estate market might suggest a trust since it offers more flexibility. I can not understand the previous attorney's position of "its a mess." You have deal with the mess either now or later. It will most certainly be more messy if you wait until mom passes away. Be sure you get mom in to see an attorney who practices in estate planning and probate exclusively and has a track record. With the economy like it is, there have been a lot of attorneys flocking to this practice area who have no experience.