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Six Common Questions Regarding Wills, Part One

In a recent article posted on The New York Times' financial blog, Tara Siegel Bernard took on the question of creating a will - six questions to be exact. As we have said and as you may well know, creating an estate plan is one of the most confusing areas of the law.

Bernard's post does a good job summing up six of the most common questions posed by those seeking advice on creating their will. These points should also serve as a good introduction for those who are still considering a will, but have yet to act on it.

  1. When is the right time to set up your will?
    This answer varies depending on a person's situation, but as Bernard points out, "anyone who has accumulated some money or other assets should have a basic will." This is especially true if you have children. Without a will, should you pass away unexpectedly, your assets will be divided by the state's laws - not according to any informal or implied wishes.
  2. Is it possible to make your own will without personalized legal assistance?
    In short, yes. It is possible to create a will using paid software. However, by using software, you often have to give up the flexibility provided by an estate planning attorney. When you work with a human being, for example, questions that come up can be more specifically answered according to your situation and desires

    Will software is created with the idea of serving everyone, but not everyone faces the same issues when setting up an estate plan. Therefore, while possible, it is not always preferred.
  3. Is a will enough or should you have other legal documents prepared with it?
    Lawyers often recommend that you also have documents which give decision-making rights to other individuals, should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make those decisions yourself.

    An example of this is an advance care directive, itself an umbrella term describing several different documents. Such a directive can tell a doctor how you would like to be treated should you become incapacitated or designate another individual who you would like to make treatment decisions for you.

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