Having a will in place can provide piece of mind for both you and your family when the time comes. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following "Money Matters" report.
No one likes to think about it, but death is inevitable. And yet a survey from 2011 found that a whopping 57 percent of American adults don't have a will -- including 44 percent of baby boomers.
"I write wills for a living and sort of like the shoemakers' shoes, I was putting off doing my own will because it was such a depressing proposition," says Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza.
Depressing, maybe, but absolutely necessary, and not just for the wealthy. That's because more important than doling out every single individual item you own, what a will does is appoint people to some very important positions.
"People who have minor children absolutely have to have a will to appoint a guardian to take care of the children, otherwise the court becomes involved and could very well appoint someone that you as a parent would not have named," says Carrozza.
In addition, your will should also name an executor to oversee your financial affairs after you're gone. Attorney Michael Connors says even if you don't have much while you're alive, you never know what you may leave behind.
"There may be a lawsuit which may control a lot of assets and that's where a will comes into play," notes Attorney Michael Connors.
Attorney fees can differ greatly, but for a will, expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500. You can also write your own using samples from the Internet or whatever you have handy.
"I can write my will on a Bounty paper towel and as long as it is witnessed by two people and I've signed my name in the presence of those two people that will should be admissible," says Carrozza.
However, Carrozza warns your family will likely be in court for two years while that paper towel is authenticated.
While attorneys say using a professional will likely make the process go smoother, Carrozza also offers free downloadable forms on her website. That's because attorneys agree that the important thing is to have a will in place. If you don't, the state will write one for you.