So August is National Make-a-Will Month. Who knew?
Getting a will isn't the most pleasant of tasks, and consequently, too few people do it. A recent survey of more than 2,000 people by the online legal service Rocket Lawyer found that 64 percent don't have wills. The biggest reason cited by folks: They just never got around to it. Some said they didn't want to think about death.
You might believe that only wealthier families need a will. You'd be wrong.
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"Having a will is important for every family, regardless of how much money they have," says Elisa Shevlin Rizzo, managing director and trust counsel at Fiduciary Trust Company International in New York, an investment management firm. "It provides some peace and certainty about how things will be handled after an individual has died."
If you die without a will, the state could get involved in the costly job of trying to determine who in your family gets what. "It may not be what the individual intended and it becomes much more complicated," Rizzo says.
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It's never too late to put your financial affairs in order. Here are a few tips to get you started, courtesy of Sally Hurme, a project adviser at AARP and author of T he ABA Checklist for Family Heirs: A Guide to Family History, Financial Plans and Final Wishes:
- Make an inventory of your assets (bank accounts, investments, properties, jewelry, art collections and other personal items).
- Review whom you've named as beneficiaries of your life insurance, retirement funds or investment accounts. (An ex-spouse, for example, may inherit if these forms haven't been updated.)
- If you've already drafted a plan, look it over every few years to make sure the executors are still the people you trust and are up to the task.
>> Next: A Big Problem with Fill-in-the-Blank Wills
Also of Interest
- Kids' Best Financial Adviser: Grandma or Grandpa
- Your New Retirement Number: $58,000
- Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more