The Real Deal: Do you have a will and estate? Here is how to get started.
There never seems to be a “right time” to discuss wills and estates — but waiting too long can cost you and your family lots of extra legal costs and time in settling legal matters.
Over 50% of adults don’t have wills in place. It’s an uncomfortable conversation and task to carry out, but setting up a will, will make sure your assets are distributed to the right beneficiaries without a mountain of legal fees.
“If we don't have a will in place, the state determines who gets your stuff,” says Ann-Margaret Carrozza, author of “Love and Money” and an elder estate attorney. “And it may not be the folks that you want to have your stuff. So without a will in place, people you don't even like may end up with your assets.”
Carrozza says choosing the right lawyer for the right price can save you later on.
“So a lot of people put off creating a will because they think it's very expensive. But if we don't have a will in place on the other end after my passing, the costs will run into many thousands of dollars when beneficiaries are fighting with each other in court,” says Carrozza.
She says if money is tight, you can ask if you can work out a payment plan.
There are also documents to fill out for free without an attorney. A living will and a health care proxy can be downloaded from a state’s Department of Health website. They are needed to have in place should your loved ones not be able to make those decisions for themselves.
“If we do a good will now, we're going to feel a little bit lighter because we know we're doing the right thing by our family in years to come,” says Carrozza.
You should also look to get multiple quotes on an attorney — and to make sure it’s a flat fee and not hourly.