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Making Change

Where there's a will ...

Where there's a will, there's a way, especially if the will is to protect your hard-earned assets. This week, host Betsy Karetnick spoke to Gary Schatsky, a financial advisor and New York-based attorney, for advice on who needs a will, why it's important, and how it should be done. Gary's advice was simple and to the point.

First, you don't need to be a millionaire to have a will. If you've got children, assets, valuables, and savings, then a will is important. Drawing up a will can save money for your heirs. If you don't have a will, and you've got large assets, your heirs will pay large tax penalties and a lot of legal fees. If the estate you leave behind is small, your heirs will, at the minimum, pay for court expenses and some estate taxes. The biggest danger of not leaving a will is that you won't get to choose what happens to your property, including family heirlooms, after you die. The probate court will make the decision for you.

Second, creating a will doesn't have to be complicated, time consuming, or expensive. It can be simple and moderately priced (about 100 to 200 dollars), and spell out your wishes. More complicated wills may, of course, require more time and expense to create.

Third, a lot of new software packages for your P.C. can generate pretty good wills, but Schatsky advises caution. For 99 percent of people, these programs are probably fine, but you don't want to be among the one percent that runs into trouble. If you decide to use a software package to create your will, at least have it double-checked by a lawyer.

The four tips Schatsky provided were:
  1. No matter what, you need a will.
  2. Decide who you want as the beneficiary(ies).
  3. Decide who will be the guardian(s) and executor(s).
  4. Get a competent attorney to draft (or at least examine) the will.

For more information about how to plan for your future, visit our archive, and read:

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