Sometimes the hardest thing about setting up an estate plan isn't finding the answers to your questions - it's knowing what questions to ask in the first place. That was the focus of a recent New York Times article by Tara Siegel Bernard.
In the piece, she discusses six of the most important, and common, questions when it comes to setting up your will. We will cover three of them here and three in a subsequent post.
- When do I need a will?
Essentially, whenever you reach a point where you have assets you'd like to protect or a fair amount of money and/or property, it is appropriate to start thinking about setting up a will. Bernard points out that, even if you're not ready to make a full-scale estate plan, a basic will can still cover a lot of area and provide you with a significant safety net.
If you have children, then you will definitely want to set up a will that protects both their future and your spouse's, if necessary.
- Can I do it (set up a will) myself?
There is software out there that allows you to create your own, legally-binding will. However, Bernard claims that your comfort with the process and the amount of special considerations you hope to work through really should determine whether or not you make your own will or seek out an estate planning attorney.
She's right. In most cases, it is much safer to see an experienced lawyer than it is to trust paid software to take care of everything. An attorney will be able to walk you through the process, answering questions as they come up to the degree that you need them answered.
- Where should I keep my will?
It goes without saying that you should keep your will in a safe place. Bernard recommends a fireproof box that is easily accessible to the executor of your estate.
Speaking of which, keeping your will safe is one thing, but don't make it impossible to find. At the least, make sure that your estate executor knows where the will is stored.
- Getting a Will: Six Common Questions (The New York Times)