By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer
Writing a will may not be the most pressing issue on your mind, so it remains one of the most important things that a lot of people never do. Get your brain in gear for will-making.
AARP supplies the basics: what a will is, and why it’s important. This post explains the complication to your family and friends if you die without a will, or “intestate.” Sure, you’ll be gone, so it’s not your problem. But the headaches will live on and on for those you love and it’s likely that a court-appointed stranger will divvy up your loot; aarp.us/cQlLDi.
Steps for making a will are outlined in a post by Erin Scottberg on Learnvest.com. Important advice includes being sure you comply with state laws on matters such as the number of witnesses required to sign a will, and updating your will to account for big life changes (while being careful to revoke earlier versions of the will). An experienced lawyer will know those details, but this page also includes links to online will-making software and do-it-yourself sites; bit.ly/OeejJK.
Do you need a lawyer to draw up your will? Nolo.com has been providing printed and online tools to avoid it for many years. But even Nolo allows that some people have lives and finances complicated enough to warrant having a lawyer.
Business owners, people with a lot of money and need to do tax planning, or anyone out to specifically disinherit someone should consult experts. On the other hand, Nolo has state-by-state self-help guidelines; bit.ly/oq2UeD.
More on the pros and cons of using a lawyer for your will are discussed in another post, this older one at Inc.com; bit.ly/8ZMlG0.
Even younger adults should have a will, says this post at the website of Massachusetts lawyer Brian Mekdsy. It notes a report that only half of Americans with children have wills.
Meanwhile, dying young is a fact of life, Mekdsy says, and a will can be used to designate guardians for children, leave property to an unmarried partner, or designate how to handle digital assets and social media accounts, a growing issue as we conduct more of our business and personal lives online; bit.ly/MzdXkP.