Wills are not just something older people have
We tend to think of wills as something that older people have. Anyone who has assets should have a will—and that includes even the youngest adults among us. Without a will, you have no say in how your assets are distributed, or even the guardianship of your children, when you die.
It is inexpensive to make out a simple will. You can do it yourself with online resources such as Nolo Press or Legal Zoom.
An attorney will cost more but may charge a fixed fee. In return, you simply supply all your documentation, and the attorney does the rest.
Either way, you will want to:
- Choose an executor, who files your will with the court and ensures the terms of your will followed. This could be a family member, friend, or a professional fiduciary (a bank trust department or lawyer).
- Choose a guardian, who will take care of any children under age 18.
- Inventory your assets and accounts, and keep this list updated, helping you and your executor manage your estate. Include all financial accounts and co-owned assets.
- Keep your beneficiary designations up-to-date on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other accounts. These take precedent over what you designate in your will.
- Keep all your paperwork in a safe or safety deposit box and let your executor know its location.
- Update your will over time to reflect new assets, changed relationships and economic circumstances, and changes in tax laws.