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Posted: 2:17 p.m. Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why Having A Will Is Necessary

By Clark Howard

What are the odds you don't have a will? Best guess is that 50% of us don't have one. For some folks, that may be OK -- especially if they're single, have nothing, and own nothing.

But if you do have kids, you need a will for the simple fact that if you don't have one, the state will decide who raises your kids.

That's the reality in the absence of any written direction from you. Ditto if you're in a different circumstance, living without the benefit of marriage. In many cases, your partner will not be considered to inherit your estate unless you put it in writing.

Some people use the excuse that doing a will is too complicated and too expensive for them to undertake. I don't buy that.

It's true that if you have a complicated life -- maybe you own your own business and have built up a lot of assets or you have a blended family -- you'll need to go see a lawyer who specializes in wills, estates, and trusts.

Use an online service to simplify the will process

However, if you have a simple situation, I like the WillMaker software that you can pay to use through They do a great job of asking interactive questions to guide you through the will completion process. If you don't like WillMaker, would be another way to get it done on the cheap.

If you get confused along the way as you're doing your will with an online service, I advise you to stop and see a lawyer. But if you want to just push through for piece of mind, it is much cheaper to have a lawyer review the will you've self-prepared than to actually prepare one for you from scratch.

Lawyers get antsy when I talk about this because they think about every disaster that's ever happened when people have self-prepared a will. But the biggest disaster is not having a will at all.

So what about you? Make sure those you leave behind are well taken care of.