According to a recent article in US and World News, you don’t have to own a home or have significant assets to write a will. Even people living paycheck to paycheck should consider making a will, especially if they have young children. Writing a will helps those you leave behind honor your wishes and can help alleviate potential discord among family members.
Calculate Your Assets – Take an inventory of the assets that you have by writing them down in a spreadsheet or columns. It is often a wise idea to put a column with their estimated value and the person to whom you would like to bequeath these assets.
Select a witness and an executor – Even if you do your will online with many of the online will writing services, all states require two people to witness the actual signing of the will. It is typically a good idea that the witnesses are not beneficiaries of your will. Select an executor of your will. An executor (often called a personal representative) is a person(s) named in the will tasked with the responsibility of winding up your financial affairs after your death. The executor does not require a legal or financial background, but should be someone you trust.
Put your will in a safe place – You should make several copies of your will and place them in separate and safe locations. Make sure that the executor knows how to locate the will. In most cases there is no need to put your will in a safety deposit box or to file a will with a court.
Children and a will – If you have minor children, it is imperative that you write a will clearly outlining your wishes and choosing an adult to manage the inheritance of children under age 18.
Do you need a lawyer – In most cases, you don’t require the assistance of a lawyer. As long as there are no tax issues, most people can go online and create a will. According to Alan Rothschild, vice chairman of the trust and estate division of the American Bar Association and an estate-planning lawyer in Columbus, GA, a basic will is better than no will at all.
Most estate experts agree that do it yourself wills are acceptable for most people with assets valued at less than $2 million, which is the typical threshold for triggering estate taxes.
While typical wills cost anywhere from $500 to $1000, much more expensive than do it yourself sites that range from $39 to $199, many people find that the peace of mind of having a will written with the assistance of a lawyer with estate-planning experience is worth the additional expenditure!
Regardless of whether you hire an experienced attorney or select a do it yourself approach, a will is an important aspect of getting your affairs in order and ensure that your wishes are considered after your death.
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