Tablet computers are hot, but when you have got the best that money can buy, don’t forget to use it for a less glamorous purpose – planning your finances for the week, month, and year and for the future. What would happen to your family if you died today – would they be ok?
As long as you have a few assets, you should go ahead and get your will written. If you own a home or have children you should make plans to have your will completed by later today – just in case. If you don’t have a will, the law dictates who will get what and when. With so many families having second marriages and children from different fathers, the need for a will to have a first say over the law without a will is essential; even more important than checking out those 0% credit cards
There are two ways you can tackle this task. You can use your lawyer or try an online service via your nice new tablet. It’s easy to know which will be best for you.
Online or offline?
If your situation is relatively easy to explain, then you may be able to use an online service. By having all the relevant information to hand – names, addresses, relationships, lists of assets and liabilities – you should be able to complete the assignment in less than an hour.
Check out the online will writing companies and compare their fees and see how you feel about the ease of use of their website. It’s a good idea to check reviews of the websites that come top of your list as some that were looking good two years have disappeared today. Finding a safe and secure website is essential as the information you will be providing will be close to your heart, as well as your bank balance.
Your online cost will be well under $100, sometimes much less. In contrast, if you need to go to a lawyer because your will writing process is more complicated, that $100 will be gone by the time you walk though their door. Don’t cheap out though; in the long term, it might be better to spend $400-$950 to ensure that your will is written correctly as this may save you or your family many thousands later on in life.
Making your decision
Estate taxes on your assets are triggered at around the five million dollar mark. Below that level you should be able to write your will online. Over that figure and you’ll need a lawyer’s advice to choose the best way to structure your finances now and after you die.
An online will works by asking you lots of questions. How you answer often dictates the next question. The idea is that you form the best will specifically for you this way, but it won’t help you answer questions that a live person could ask through their years of experience.
If you do it online, you must check that the will is right for your state as states have different laws and regulations.
You will need to make a number of very personal decisions when you write your will, whether that be online or in a lawyer’s office. You should note that spouses make separate wills and they can be different in content.
If you have jointly owned assets (your home, perhaps a bank account) they will automatically go to the joint owner on your death unless you have already completed paperwork treating the assets as two separate halves so you can distribute your half how you want to.
You will need to consider alternative people to receive assets from you if your first choice dies before you.
Even if you don’t have enough money to last beyond the next month, if you have children you need to write a will to dictate who will look after your children if both parents should die together. This also applies if you are a single parent, perhaps widowed, with no set home for your child if you should pass away.
In your will you can name who will become the guardian of your child. This person would be given the task of bringing up your child as if they were their own, but with instructions from you as to your wishes for education, religion and finances.
And that’s not all. Whether you use your flashy new tablet or go to a lawyer, your will must be correctly printed, signed and witnessed to be valid.