We Need a Will

My wife and I have been making do with a pair of old, do-it-yourself wills that I prepared using an old version of WillMaker (formerly from Nolo Press, now an Intuit product). To give you an idea of just how old this software is, it’s not even Y2K ready — the last time I updated our wills (about four years ago) I had to manually edit the output file to change the year from 1901 to 2001. Anyway, things have changed dramatically for us in the past few years. Both our finances and family have grown. In fact, our two youngest kids aren’t even mentioned in our wills. Thus, it seems like it’s time for an update.

Our current wills are pretty standard stuff… If I die, everything goes to my wife with our kids as secondary beneficiaries. If my wife dies, everything goes to me with the kids as secondary beneficiaries. We’ve named a guardian for the kids but, beyond that, we haven’t done any additional estate planning. I’m not really sure what more we need at this point but, given our dramatic increase in responsibility, it seems to me like it’s time to think about enlisting professional help — if for no other reason than the peace of mind that comes from knowing that all of our ‘i’s are dotted and our ‘t’s are crossed (legally speaking). It’s going to take us a bit to get going on this, but I plan on chronicling the process here once we get the ball rolling.

Got an opinion as to things we should be considering? Thoughts? Advice?

8 Responses to “We Need a Will”

  1. Anonymous

    In most jurisdictions, wills are not recorded with the county. My wife and I have a fireproof box in which we keep our will, birth certs, passports, etc… Make certain that you provide the combo or a copy of the key to someone you can trust (eg, a parent or sibling) and tell them where to find the wills in the event that you or your wife cannot access the will when necessary. While you’re at it, it’s not a bad idea to have a copy (not the original) in a safety deposit box for you to reference if you lose the original.

  2. Nickel

    Regarding the will vs. revocable living trust issue, I have no idea. I chose a will because that’s what I’m familiar with. I’ll have to look into other options, as well.

  3. Anonymous

    Why did you choose a will over a revocable living trust? Does a will not get recorded with the county like a RLT ? I’m in the insurane industry and I see more and more people changing to trusts. I haven’t done either yet, however one of them’s on my list and I figure I’d start with the will first since it’s the cheapest, but Suze Orman says to do it as soon as possible.

  4. Nickel

    That’s a great question, Keith. You definitely don’t want to keep the original in your safe deposit box, although you may opt to put a copy there. We will probably keep ours in a fireproof lock box in our house. If you have an attorney, another possibility would be to have them keep it. Whatever you do, make sure that you tell people (executor, guardian, etc.) where it is so they know where to look.

  5. Anonymous

    Not really advise, just a congrats. I think that more people should think about this and make sure everything’s straight. People avoid it because they don’t want to think about it. Way to go! Very good advise for everyone out there.

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