Creating a Will
Having a will ensures that your wishes about income, property and family will be known and that your assets will be given to the people you have named as beneficiaries when you die. It is important to have a will regardless of your health, wealth or marital status. If there is no will, the laws in your state will determine how your assets are distributed. A will does not have to be expensive or complicated to create and can be written as often as needed if circumstances change.
Creating a Will: Detailed Information
This information is meant to be a general introduction to this topic. The purpose is to provide a starting point for you to become more informed about important matters that may be affecting your life as a survivor and to provide ideas about steps you can take to learn more. This information is not intended nor should it be interpreted as providing professional medical, legal and financial advice. You should consult a trained professional for more information. Please read the Suggestions and Additional Resources documents for questions to ask and for more resources.
A will (also known as a "last will and testament") is a written document that states how you would like your financial and other legal matters to be taken care of after you die. It is important to have a will regardless of your health, wealth, or marital status. Having a will ensures that your decisions about property and family will be known and that your assets will be distributed among the people you have named as beneficiaries.
This document provides information about creating a will including:
- The important functions of a will
- Whether an attorney is needed to prepare your will
- What you need to know about writing your own will
- What happens during the probate process
- What cannot be accomplished with a will
- What assets can be transferred to another person without a will
- How often wills and beneficiary choices should be reviewed
- Where a will should be stored
What are some important functions of a will?
Having a will gives you the opportunity to control what happens to your estate instead of the law and courts in your state making these determinations. A will does not have to be expensive or complicated to create. It can be rewritten as often as needed if your wishes or circumstances change. If you do not have a will, the laws in your state will determine how your assets are distributed-- this may not be how you want your assets to be distributed.
The following are some of the most important functions of a will:
- Naming the executor or co-executors of your will
- Naming the beneficiaries (such as family members, friends or charities) who will receive your property
- Naming the legal guardians for minor children and other dependents
- Making asset management arrangements for beneficiaries who are minors and/or adult dependent children
- Defining what each beneficiary should receive and when they should receive the gift
- Naming alternate beneficiaries
- Specifying a plan for the care of your pets
You do not need to tell others what, if anything, they may inherit under your will.
However, in some cases it may be a good idea to talk with family members and friends who will be impacted by your will before you start preparing your will. However, providing them with information about what is important to you and what you believe should be done with your assets can help them in the future.
It is also helpful to talk with loved ones to be certain that you know all the facts about your family's assets. For example, if you are married, you need to know specific information about your spouse's income, benefits, investments, and debts.
Do you need an attorney to prepare your will?
Generally, it is best to have an attorney who specializes in estate planning help you to create your will. Any mistakes made in creating your will could result in delays and unnecessary expenses as the estate goes through "probate." Probate is the legal certification process that proves a will is valid. An experienced attorney will know the legal requirements for creating a formal will according to the specific laws of your state.
An attorney should assist you in creating your will if it includes complex matters, such as:
- Gifts or guardianship arrangements for minor children
- Gifts of specific assets to specific individuals
- Estates of significant value
- Real estate in a state other than your home state
- The "forgiving" (cancellation) of debts others owe to you
- Spouse who may need nursing home care
- Spouse who is not a citizen of this country
- Major gifts made within the past three years
- Living spouse or children who you want to exclude under your will
- Specific provisions for individuals who are disabled or legally unable to care for themselves
Comparing the fees charged by attorneys in your area can help you decide on a reasonable rate for creating a will. An attorney usually charges an hourly rate, but some charge a flat fee for preparation of a basic will. Be certain to ask each attorney about his or her fees during the first consultation. If you are a member of a prepaid legal service, it is possible that the service will create a will for you as part of your overall fee.
Generally, the more you have done to collect and document your personal information, the less work the attorney will have to do. This means that the legal fees are likely to be lower if you have done much of the work.
Can you write your own will?
You may want to write your own will. However, a will is more likely to withstand any legal challenge if it is prepared by an attorney. For example, if you write your own will and it is later challenged by a family member, it may be declared invalid. If this happens, the courts may ignore your intentions and distribute your property according to state probate laws. This process could take a long time and cost your estate a great deal of money.
Wills created with the assistance of an attorney are usually the most effective method of ensuring that your wishes will be carried out. However, under certain circumstances, it might work well to create your own will. For example, if your family, financial, and legal situations are not complicated, you might be able to create your own will using forms available in a "will kit." These can be purchased in office supply stores, bookstores or online.
Consider writing your own will only if all of the following are true:
- You have limited assets
- All of your assets are registered in your name
- You want to leave your assets to only one or two people
- There are no major tax implications to consider
Know the legal requirements in your state before you attempt to write your own will including:
- The number of witnesses, if any, that are required
- Whether you must use specific legal language in your will
- Whether your will needs to be notarized (witnessed and certified with a state signature seal)
- Whether your witnesses must be present in the room during the entire process of creating and signing your will
Some states do recognize oral and handwritten wills. However, there is a greater chance that this type of will could be contested during probate. There are also limitations to what can be done. For example, real estate property cannot be distributed through an oral will, only personal property. In addition, both oral and handwritten wills have legal requirements regarding the need for credible witnesses to appear in court during the probate process to prove that the will is valid. Carefully review the specific regulations of the probate code (or probate statues) of your state before developing one of these types of wills.
If you do decide to prepare your own will, consider having an experienced attorney review the document you develop and oversee the execution of your will. Typically, the fee for this legal service will be less than it would have been if the attorney had to do all the work to prepare the will.
What happens during the probate process?
Probate is the legal certification process that proves a will is valid. Each state has its own probate process. The probate court (called "surrogate court" in some states) ensures that taxes and debts are paid and that your remaining assets are transferred to the beneficiaries named in your will.
If you do not have a valid will, the probate court will appoint an executor to distribute the assets in accordance with state law. This process is much more expensive than naming an executor in your will, and the expenses must be paid out of your estate before any assets are distributed. The probate process time can vary from weeks to years depending on factors such as how busy the court system is and the complexity of your estate.
Beneficiaries usually do not receive assets until after the will goes through probate. In some states an executor may be allowed to give a beneficiary an advance on the inheritance. If you want this to be possible, you may need to state this in your will. Again, this is determined by the laws in your state.
What is required for your will to be valid?
For your will to be valid, it must be legally executed and typically must meet the following conditions:
- Your will must be written, signed by you and the number of witnesses required by your state (usually two or three) and notarized.
- You must be of legal age (18 years old in most states).
- You must be "mentally competent" and aware of the extent of your property and who you want to name as your beneficiaries. If the probate process determines that your will was not created while you were mentally competent, your estate will be distributed according to the laws in your state and your assets may not go to whom you would select.
If your will is written while you are being treated for a serious illness or injury, the will may be questioned by others. They may argue that the illness, treatment process or medications affected your ability to make decisions (legally called "testamentary capacity") or that your condition left you under the "undue influence" of one or more of the beneficiaries. If this matter goes to court, there may be a legal challenge of the will.
What can help you avoid challenges to your will?
Taking the following steps may help avoid challenges to your will, particularly if you have written your own will without the help of an attorney:
- Make sure that the witnesses who sign your will are "disinterested" (will not benefit from any provision of your will). In addition, choose witnesses who are trustworthy and can be easily reached if a question about the will arises.
- Use at least one more witness than is required by your state law. That way, if one witness is not available to testify in court, there will still be enough legal witnesses.
- You and each witness should initial each of the pages of your will in the presence of a notary public when you sign it.
- Have the witnesses sign an affidavit (sworn written statement) that describes their opinion of your mental state when you executed your will, including describing that you appeared to understand the nature and extent of your assets, as well as the identity of your heirs.
- If you choose to videotape the execution of your will, start the taping process early enough so that the video will show you discussing enough information for a viewer to clearly see that you are alert, competent and sure of what you are doing.
What cannot be accomplished with a will?
A will cannot do any of the following:
- Change a beneficiary if the title or registration of the asset specifies who receives it on your death. For example, a house registered in two names with a right of survivorship will pass to the other person no matter what the will says.
- Change the terms of a legal contract or trust.
- Prevent a spouse from inheriting assets if the state gives spouses that right. For example, your state law may say a spouse gets a minimum percentage of your estate no matter what your will says.
- Dictate or change funeral arrangements. In most cases, by the time the will is read, the funeral will already have taken place. If you have specific funeral requests, you should convey them to a trusted family member or friend outside of your will.
- Leave assets in a manner prohibited by law, such as to an illegal organization or for an illegal purpose.
What assets can be transferred to another person without a will?
"Will substitutes" are methods set up to move property from one person to another without going through the probate process with a will. Some of your assets may already be set up to go to specific beneficiaries, such as an insurance policy or retirement plan.
Will substitute arrangements cannot be changed by your will. If you want to make a change so that an asset will go to someone else, you must change the right of ownership or survivorship on each asset before your death. For example, you need to work with a banker to change a beneficiary on a bank account. Likewise, you need to work with an insurance agent to change a beneficiary on an insurance policy. If you are not sure which of your assets can be passed on to another person through a will substitute, talk to an attorney or someone who is knowledgeable about wills and estate planning.
The following provides basic information about commonly used will substitutes:
Without a Will
How Assets Are Transferred
Bank accounts are set up through banks, savings and loan companies and credit unions. These accounts can be registered in two names jointly or be set up to be "payable on death" to another person so that when one person on the account dies, the other person receives the bank account.
A "Totten trust" is set up by registering a bank account or certificate of deposit to be "payable on death." The beneficiary has no rights to the account until you die. This type of trust can be changed or revoked, or the money in the account can be spent by you.
Life Insurance Policies
Beneficiaries of your life insurance policies are named when you set up the life insurance policy. Most often the beneficiary can be changed, but there are some policies that consider the beneficiary designation "irrevocable" (not able to be changed). Talk with your insurance agent about the terms of each policy when you are purchasing and setting up the policy.
Other Legal Arrangements
The law permits other legal arrangements, such as the creation of corporations, limited liability companies and partnerships for the purpose of passing assets from one person to another. You need to talk with an experienced attorney who can help you to decide whether this option might be good for your situation.
Real estate property may be registered in your name and another person's name with a "right of survivorship" or other indication that the other person gets the property in the event of your death.
Beneficiaries are named by you when you set up a retirement plan. You may be required to designate your spouse as the beneficiary unless your spouse waives this right in writing. Otherwise, the choice of beneficiary can be changed at any time.
If you do not wish to name a particular person as the beneficiary of your retirement plan, you can list your estate as the beneficiary. If set up this way, the money from the retirement plan will be paid to the estate and then distributed according to your will.
Stocks and Bonds
Stocks and bonds may be set up to be transferred to the beneficiaries by using a transfer-on-death (TOD) form. If you want to change the beneficiary you must go through the brokerage company that manages your investments.
Transfer of Assets to a Minor
The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (also known as the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) permits transfer of an asset to a minor. However, an adult must manage the money (usually through a trust) until the child reaches adulthood.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship. This means that one party (the trustee) holds title to property for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary).
By establishing a trust, you may appoint a trustee to use his or her own best judgment in making all decisions about your assets or you may restrict the types of decisions that can be made.
There are different types of trusts to accomplish different purposes. Trust categories include:
- Revocable living trusts that are created while you are alive and can be changed
- Irrevocable trusts that cannot be changed
- Testamentary trusts created after death through your will
- Charitable remainder trusts that give assets to charity after death
Setting up trusts is complicated. An experienced attorney or financial planner can help you with the selection and set-up of the type of trust that will accomplish the purpose you intend. Keep in mind that not everyone needs to set up a trust. The need for a trust is usually dependent upon your financial and family situation. An attorney can help you decide if this is a good option or necessary for you and your particular situation.
If you register the title of a vehicle with another person, such as a spouse, that person has rights to the asset while you are alive and also inherits the asset when you die. There are also designations such as "payable on death" that do not give the person any rights to the asset until your death.
What do you need to do to begin creating a will?
Collect relevant information:
Gather the following information to begin creating a will. If you are working with an attorney, he or she will also request this information.
- Your full legal name and current place of residence.
- The legal names and contact information of the executor or co-executors (also called personal representative, executrix or administrator) and the alternate(s) you name in your will.
- The legal names and contact information for all of the beneficiaries and alternates that you have selected.
- The legal names and contact information for the guardian or guardians you name for your minor children and/or adult dependent children.
- Copies of any documents that will be relevant to your estate, such as:
- Marriage certificates
- Prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreements
- Divorce decrees
- Existing wills
- Trust documents
- Property deeds
- Tax returns
- Documentation of jointly-owned property and the legal names and contact information of all co-owners.
- Lists or documentation of all of your assets. Also include the current financial value and beneficiary information for each, including:
- Income sources, including expected interest and dividend payments
- Retirement benefits, including government-sponsored programs, employer-sponsored plans and individual retirement plans
- Financial assets, such as bank accounts, annuities, investment accounts and loans owed to you
- Property you own, including real estate, furniture, collections, jewelry and family heirlooms
- Safe deposit box contents and the location of each box and its key
- Trust accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Lists or documentation of all your debts and other obligations, such as:
- Real estate mortgages
- Car and other vehicle payments
- Credit card debt
- Personal loans
- Business debt
Go through the process of creating your will:
Whether you are working with an attorney or creating your own will, you will want to include the following steps (as they apply to your situation) to create your will:
1. Name the executor or co-executors of your will.
The executor(s) will carry out the wishes and instructions as stated in your will and is also responsible for making certain that all legal steps are taken to protect the assets before distribution. Consider naming a back-up executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in that role when needed.
The executor will be responsible for overseeing the probate estate process that includes:
- Identifying and informing the appropriate people (such as beneficiaries and guardians)
- Doing an inventory of the assets and debts of the estate
- Overseeing the preparation and payment of state and federal tax returns
- Managing the assets before distribution is made to the beneficiaries
- Paying estate debts and settling claims
- Distributing the assets after the probate estate process and the payment of probate expenses, legal and accounting fees, taxes and debts
- Filing reports with the probate court to assure that all the assets are accounted for and have been distributed as approved
Executors are not required to have specific financial or legal knowledge. Honesty, reliability and the willingness to do the job are the most important qualifications. Many people who are married name a spouse or an adult child as the executor of their will. If an executor needs help with financial or legal matters, he or she can hire attorneys, accountants or other experts and pay them from the assets of the estate.
Before naming the executor of your will, discuss the responsibilities of that role with the person you intend to name in your will. Keep in mind that an executor can at anytime decide to accept or refuse the responsibility (resign). If you have named an alternate executor in your will, that person will then take over the job. If no alternate was named, the court will appoint someone to step into the role.
If the executor does not live in the state where you reside, there is likely to be an added expense for that person. For example, the executor may have to travel to your state to attend at least one court hearing and possibly for other reasons during the probate process.
If you have named more than one executor (co-executors), there is a possibility that they may disagree when making a decision. If this happens, then the court will have to resolve the matter. In your state it may be possible to divide the specific responsibilities of different executors into separate areas.
2. Name the beneficiaries you have chosen and provide contact information.
An important function of your will is to distribute your assets to the people you name as beneficiaries. Your will should indicate if you want the assets given to your beneficiaries at specific times. If there is no will or other legal method to transfer your assets, the laws in your state may distribute your property in a way that you would not wish it to be distributed.
If you have a partner that you want to receive some or all of your assets but are not married, a will is definitely needed. In most states, if you have no will, state law will dictate where your property goes after your death (usually to your closest relatives) and unmarried partners typically do not get anything.
Be sure to give enough information about your beneficiaries so that there will be no question about who you meant. For example, avoid simply stating "children" as this leaves things open to questions such as whether you mean to include stepchildren, foster children and adopted children. Similarly, if you want to leave property to a charity or religious organization, be specific about to whom and what you mean. Provide the full name and contact information for each person and organization that you name.
Find out if the laws in your state require that a percentage of your estate go to your spouse. Usually, if there is no will and you are married with children, your spouse will get a portion of your assets and your children will get the rest.
3. Name the legal guardian(s) you want the court to consider for your minor children and/or other dependents if there is ever a time when neither parent is living or able to take care of them.
If you have minor children or dependents that are unable to care for themselves, the most important function of your will is to name your choice of legal guardian. In cases where there is no will and there is no living parent who is willing or able to care for the children, a court will decide who will be appointed as guardian.
The court will go through an approval process to appoint the legal guardian after your death, with strong consideration given to the person named by you. If there are two parents, both should try to name the same person as guardian to avoid future legal disputes. Also, specify special provisions that will be needed for a disabled child or other dependent.
4. Make arrangements for the management of assets for beneficiaries who are minor children.
Property left to a minor child must be managed by an adult until that child reaches the legal age of adulthood as defined by your state. An attorney can help you set up a trust that allows you to legally set the terms of how your money is to be used. The trust can be created before your death, or it can be established through your will.
A trustee is the person that you have designated to manage your trust account. The trustee can serve without a fee if he or she agrees to do so, or a fee can be set in the terms of the trust. If no other provision is made, then the fee will be determined by the court.
Arrangements for management of assets for a minor can also be set up by leaving money or the asset(s) to a guardian to be held until the minor reaches a certain age. The guardian could be appointed while you are still alive or by a court after your death.
5. Define what each beneficiary should receive and when he or she should receive the inheritance gift.
Describe your assets well enough so that it will be clear to the executor which assets you intend to give each beneficiary. Specify when you want each of the beneficiaries to receive the gift. For example, you may want to leave a piece of jewelry that has been in the family for a long time to someone who is minor child, but only after that individual reaches a specified age.
Keep in mind that identifying specific personal property in your will may have tax consequences. Check with your attorney on whether or not this may apply in your situation.
The value of your assets may increase or decrease between the time that you write your will and the time that you die. For this reason you may want to word some of your gifts as a percentage of the estate rather than as a set dollar amount. For example, if you want to leave most of your assets to your children but would like a friend to receive a minimal amount, you could leave that person a small percentage of the value of your entire estate. That way, if the value of some of your assets goes down over time, you will know that your children will still receive most of your assets.
6. Identity each alternate beneficiary and what assets you want them to receive if the primary beneficiary is no longer available.
Provide the full name and contact information for each person you name as an alternate beneficiary. Specify what you want them to receive and when they should receive the gift.
7. Identify arrangements for the care of your pet by naming a caregiver and specifying the care you want for your pet.
In terms of your will, pets may be considered as personal property and cannot be beneficiaries. This means that no property or other assets can be left to your pet. Check the laws in your state to see how this may apply.
How often should a will and the choice of beneficiaries be reviewed?
Review your will and all beneficiary arrangements at least once a year. In addition, any time you move from one state to another, your will needs to be reviewed because each state has its own laws regarding what is required by the courts. If you have homes in more than one state and travel between them, your will needs to be valid in all the states in which you live.
If your assets change, a beneficiary dies or your relationship with a beneficiary changes, you may want to change your will. This can be done by amending the will (adding a "codicil") or you can cancel (revoke) the will and replace it with an entirely new will.
The requirements for amending a will are the same as when you executed it. You can usually revoke a will simply by destroying all copies of it, or by writing a new will that states that the old will is revoked.
Where should a will be stored?
The original copy of the will should be available when needed, so it should be kept in a safe place that can be easily accessed after your death. If you use an attorney, consider leaving the original with him or her, and let your family or a trusted friend know where the will is kept.
Your will should not be left with someone who has an interest in preventing it from being carried out according to your wishes. In addition, the will should not be stored in a location where such a person could gain access to the will. As a precaution, consider giving dated copies of your will to your executor and other trusted individuals such as your spouse, partner or an adult child.
Storing the original will document in a safe deposit box is generally not recommended. Some states require that safe deposit boxes be "sealed" upon death. This means that, at the time of the owner's death, the contents of the safe deposit box can only be removed by an authorized representative of the court. The contents are then inventoried and only released when written authorization is received from the appropriate government agency. If a safe deposit box is sealed, there are likely to be significant delays since this process takes time and the will must be officially released by the authorities. Check with your bank to be certain that you understand all the rules that are in place regarding safe deposit boxes.
If you have questions about the best way for you to pass assets to beneficiaries, contact a qualified attorney specializing in estate planning. Other professionals who may be able to provide help with wills and estate planning information include tax attorneys, accountants and certified financial planners.
This document was produced in collaboration with:
David S. Landay, Esq., author of Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide for Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions.
Bugge, Lawrence J., Chair and Committee Members: Charles M. Crook, Diana S. Dowling, Thomas L. Jones, Charles G. Kepler, Brockenbrough Lamb, Jr., Robert C. Robinson, Thomas A. Shiels, M. King Hill, Jr., Carlyle C. Ring, Jr., William J. Pierce, Elmer R. Oettinger. National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (1986). Chicago, IL., 1986.
Landay, David S. Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide to Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1998.
"Making a Will." Pueblo.gsa.gov. 2005. Federal Citizen Information Center, 22 September 2006.
"Probing Probate: What You Should Know." Dummies.com. 2006. "For Dummies" online resource. 4 October 2006.
"What is a Will? Self-Help Guide." AARP.org. 22 September 2006.
"Wills & Estate Planning." Nolo.com. 22 September 2006.
"Wills & Estates: Writing Your Will." ABAnet.org. 2006. American Bar Association Division for Public Education. 22 September 2006.
Creating a Will: Suggestions
The suggestions that follow are based on the information presented in the Detailed Information document. They are meant to help you take what you learn and apply the information to your own needs. This information is not intended nor should it be interpreted as providing professional medical, legal and financial advice. You should consult a trained professional for more information. Please read the Additional Resources document for links to more resources.
- Begin the process of creating your will by identifying your assets and who you want to receive them. Make a list of your assets and specify which family members, friends or organizations you have chosen to receive them.
- What are your financial assets and personal property including items such as family heirlooms and personal mementos?
- What do you want to leave to loved ones?
- What do you want to leave to a nonprofit organization or charity?
- Consider talking with your family members or other beneficiaries to learn more about their thoughts and feelings regarding the distribution of your assets.
- Select an executor and an alternate executor in case your first choice is not able to serve when needed.
- List the full names (no nicknames) and addresses of the beneficiaries you have selected in your will.
Be sure to note if any of them are considered a minor child in your state. If a beneficiary is a minor, arrangements will need to be made for an adult to manage the assets until the minor child reaches the legal age in your state.
- Know how the laws of your state apply to creating a valid will.
Carefully following the requirements of the laws in your state will provide protection from possible challenges to your will.
- Review your will at least once a year to ensure that it remains accurate and continues to reflect your wishes.
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Creating a Will: Additional Resources
The resources listed below provide more detailed information and support services to help you with creating a will. Please read the Detailed Information and Suggestions document for more information and questions to ask.
LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Online: Complete an intake form through the LIVESTRONG website.
Phone: 1.855.220.7777 (English and Spanish)
Navigators are available for calls Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Time). Voicemail is available after hours.
LIVESTRONG offers assistance to anyone affected by cancer, including the person diagnosed, loved ones, caregivers and friends. The program provides information about fertility risks and preservation options, treatment choices, health literacy and matching to clinical trials. Emotional support services, peer-to-peer matching and assistance with financial, employment and insurance issues are also available. To provide these services, LIVESTRONG has partnered with several organizations including Imerman Angels, Navigate Cancer Foundation, Patient Advocate Foundation and EmergingMed.
||Send email through the Web site.
||1-888-OUR AARP (1-888-687-2277)
Calls are answered Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to midnight (EST).
AARP is a nonprofit organization for people over the age of 50. The AARP website includes information on a number of financial and practical subjects. You do not have to be an AARP member or over the age of 50 to access these articles. Information on retirement planning includes topics such as creating a will, investing, Social Security, insurance, reverse mortgages and many other consumer topics. Planning tools on the site include worksheets, calculators, and questions to ask professionals. The site also offers tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, caregiving, legal issues, as well as entertainment and educational opportunities. Some information on the site is available in Spanish.
American Bar Association
||Send email through the Web site.
The American Bar Association is a professional association for lawyers. The ABA Web site has information for the general public about a wide range of legal topics, including creating a will, tax planning, establishing trusts and other common legal issues. In addition to explanations of legal terms and processes, the site provides specific information about preparing legal documents such as wills and other advance directives. The site also includes information about finding a lawyer or legal aid service in your state, as well as what to do if you have a problem with a lawyer or want to manage a legal issue without a lawyer.
Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC)
1-866-THE CLRC (1-866-843-2572) or 213-736-1455
TTY for deaf and hard of hearing callers: 213-736-8310
The Cancer Legal Resource Center (CLRC) provides information about cancer-related legal issues to survivors, loved ones, friends, employers, health care professionals and others coping with cancer. CLRC information covers health insurance, employment, government benefits, estate planning, advanced health care directives, family law and consumer assistance.Through the CLRC national toll-free Telephone Assistance Line callers can receive information about laws and resources for their particular situation. The CLRC volunteer panel of attorneys and other professionals can provide more in-depth information and counsel to CLRC callers. All CLRC services are free and confidential. Services are available in both English and Spanish.
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