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We have no kids and are financially stable. My husband inherited his mother's house and some stock. He has no siblings. If he dies before me, am I free to do whatever I choose with his assets? I have my own will which needs updating. Should we have a joint will or keep our finances separate?

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Tell him if he does not have a will the state (depends on which state you live in) will decide how his money and estate is handled. Probate is very, very, very expensive financially stable or not.
Usually people do not want to make a will because they don't want to talk about death.
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hgn
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If he dies before you, you will simply inherit all he has. No children--less "fussing".

There may be probate, depends on your state of residency. Here, everything that's mine is hubby's and vice versa.

I got my MIL to make a will when I told her that she couldn't just leave everything put and the kids could just split it 3 ways. When I told her that TOTAL STRANGERS would be going through her stuff, she freaked out. "My UNDERWEAR DRAWER??" (technically, yes, realistically, no) That alone was enough to send her racing to an attorney.

My hubby had to be dragged to the attorney's. Making a will (trust) made him feel like he was human and might die. (this is a man who had liver cancer, a liver transplant, a stroke, heart surgery, several serious rock climbing accidents, 2 heart attacks and many car wrecks. I will be amazed if he makes it to 80).

However, once we did the nitty gritty of the trust, he was intrigued by it and how we put things together. I did 90% of the work, he just sat through a couple meetings and had a few things to say. He refuses to even talk about any funeral plans, but trust me, this guy has walked up to death so many times, I have pre- planned his funeral at least 6 times. That actually is the LEAST of my worries.

One thing that helped was me reminding him what a hassle his dad's estate was (he was executor) Dad had a partially finished trust--and DH spent a LOT of wasted hours running around getting forms and stuff b/c his dad simply wouldn't do it.

Also, I begged him to please, please, please get this done. I hate to nag, but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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busymom Jan 22, 2019
Wow, you really have had much to face in your life with your husband! How wise both of you have become in finally facing the Will/Trust issue. For those of us who had to handle some of our parents' deaths and taking care of their "estate" (small or large), knowing how much easier it is with an updated Will and even easier with a Trust being set up and the name of the Trust going on all accounts, etc., we've learned first-hand what we need to do for ourselves, our spouses, our children.

I just turned 60 (as did my husband). We have a Will, but now I'm at the point where I'm ready to sit down with an estate planner/lawyer and make sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed. We're dealing with elderly aunt and uncle who did not plan for the possibility that they would someday need care. This has been one of the saddest, hardest paths any couple could have to face, and I don't want to put my children (or niece or nephew) through this horrible situation.

My parents did a fantastic job getting their Wills and Trust properly set up, and I for one am extremely grateful—what a gift of love!
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In addition to being his wife are you his caregiver? Your profile doesn't really have much information about your situation.

Do you have durable power of attorney? Should you need to sell those stocks in order to pay for his care, you need authority to do so.

One of my oldest and dearest friend's husband died without a will. If I recall correctly, probate took 2 YEARS. She had to contact her attorney to access money to pay property taxes on the house where she moved as new bride. Her husband also had inherited his house from his parents and her name wasn't on the deed.

Dying without a will left her a whole big mess and fixing it took years. She was very angry with him and she was his caregiver for the last 5 years of his life. He was bedridden.

Nowadays, dying is costly enough that he shouldn't knowingly risk putting his wife through probate.

Has he preplanned his funeral?

I think you may need to have someone talk some sense into your husband.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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Bigsister7, if there is no Will, your hubby's estate could go into Probate. In my area, Probate can take up to two years to complete, thus that means anything that is just in your hubby's name is frozen for those two years, including checking accounts only in his name.

Make sure you both have all assets in both names to make it easier.

When it was time for my parents to update their Wills, they stalled and made excuses. I decided it was time to use a "therapeutic fib" to get the ball rolling. I told Dad due to new State laws, he needs to get his Will updated otherwise the State could take half of his estate. That got his attention, and quickly we were sitting in front of an Elder Law Attorney to update everything legal that my parents needed. Whew.
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Reply to freqflyer
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In your shoes, I would consult a lawyer about the "intestate" laws in your state. In most states, if a person dies without a will, the proceeds of the estate, after probate, go to the spouse if there are no other heirs.

I would be very hurt by his unwillingness to put in writing the fact that he wants you to have his worldly goods. Probating an estate where there is no will is much more difficult and expensive than one where there is a will. In essence, he's telling you that you're going to be left to clean up his mess.

Would he consider a trust?
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anonymous594015 Jan 21, 2019
Barb in some states, the intestate laws do not give 100% to the spouse . The children get some- sometimes more than 50%! If there are no children, the parent of the deceased is considered and their heirs. They can go out to cousins, second cousins ect. Married people with spouses with no will would do themselves a favor if they checked the rules in their state.
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Oh no dont seperate anything!
Make sure your name is on EVERYTHING! You dont need a will if you have joint bank accounts, your the beneficiary on his life insurance, and make sure your name is on the deed to both houses, yours and his mothers house! Heres where it gets tricky ( I used to do mortgages) make sure the wording on the deed with your name is clear. Normally people just put their names on the deed and thats it, you have to have, “Joint tenants with rights of survivorship” put on the deed to both your home and his moms home. This is kind of like a will for the house. Right of survivorship is saying “hey if I die the house goes to my spouse” without a will. It is crucial that you have that wording on the deed to his moms house!

He has stocks, is your name anywhere on them? If not you will have to talk to a lawyer about this one.
Im the administrator of my fathers estate and he has stocks, because they are part of the estate, therefore part of the probate. Because my name wasnt on them I have to gain control to sell them. More paperwork, phone calls, court date.

Im going through probate right now with fathers estate, and its a pain in the butt! Court dates and miles and miles of paperwork!

Bottom line is: protect yourself now so that if he passes before you, you wont have a nightmare to deal with!

Probate is a nightmare! Avoid it! Have everything in order now for your future piece of mind.
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Reply to Burnedout2017
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70 is NOT old.

In fact, it seems less old every year I get closer to it :)

The poster who said "what do I care, I'll be dead". Yeah, that's a cop out. If there is no will or trust, if everything goes smoothly and perfectly, you'd be lucky. Often, though, with no will in place, things get messy and instead of being able to grieve and move through the process of change--you find yourself working like crazy to get things settled--and a lot of anger can bubble to the surface.

Ask your DH if he thinks that's a nice way to leave you. With a huge job ahead of you and you asking yourself, nonstop "is this what DH would have wanted?". When my FIL died, he did leave a skeleton of a trust, luckily just enough to have a jumping off point. We struggled a LOT with trying to guess what he would have wanted. I waded into it, just b/c I wasn't really emotionally involved and I could quickly make decisions and the 3 kids could say "Oh, yeah, that will work." Took them 4 days to simply plan a short, simple funeral. The casket was the most expensive one they make. His headstone is almost embarassingly huge.

Everyone is going to die, it's unavoidable. Making your wishes known and then legalizing the transfer of "power" is a gift you give your family.
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Reply to Midkid58
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Llamalover47 Jan 23, 2019
Midkid58: The statement - What difference does it make; I'll be dead" was made by the OP.
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Check the laws in your state. A wife may automatically inherit especially when no children. If your bank accounts are in both names they will revert to you. Anything in my husbands name I am beneficiary. And visa versa. Some investments don't go to probate. Same with Mortgage if ur name is on it.

My husband wasn't big on a will but we had two girls to think about.

For you a will would be pretty cut and dry, what is mine is yours.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Your should each have wills or even a trust saying that you get your husband’s assets if he dies first and he gets yours if you die first. If he doesn’t have a will & goes first, you will likely have to go through probate. A close friend is in a similar situation except it’s his parents and his dad who is in his early 80s and recently suffered a TIA and has been exhibiting signs of dementia has refused to get his affairs in order. His wife is terrified because if something happens to him, she will be lost. Everything is in her husbands name. So my friend has been trying to talk his dad into getting everything together. I don’t know if this will work in your situation but he showed his parents a chart showing the costs of probate (the cost depends on how much is in the estate) that we got from our estate attorney. They are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in court and attorneys fees if he doesn’t have a will. Anyway seeing the numbers is what finally convinced my friends dad to get his stuff together and he’s going to get a trust done. So maybe if you look up the cost of probate in your area and explain to your husband that if he goes first, you won’t be able to touch any of his money without going through a lengthy and expensive probate, he will be motivated to get a will made. Good luck!
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Reply to worriedinCali
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Good that you are financially stable...for your own peace of mind get to a certified elder law attorney who has been through this stuff a million times and they will guide you as to what steps you need to take to protect yourself and keep out of probate.  Perhaps if hubby cares about you in the least they can impress upon him the expense and grief NOT having a will can bring.  It's never too late, and you can do the POA's for health care and finances as well.  Try to find someone with a flat rate for each task, not someone who will bill you by the quarter hour for a question you have...
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DiamondAngel14 Jan 23, 2019
Thats true...the elder lawyer for my mom charged for everything...on the phone, the clock started ticking...he charged $425 an hour...no matter what....
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