Love Your Family? Write a Will.
The man who doled out money to 9/11 victims' families says poor planning prolonged the agony
(MONEY Magazine) – After 9/11, the government asked attorney Kenneth Feinberg to distribute funds to the families of 9/11 victims--in all, $7 billion went to 5,562 people. The process left him painfully aware of the inadequate job many Americans do providing for their survivors.
"Many people were well prepared, with life insurance, 401(k)s, with other sources of pensions," he says. "A substantial number were ill prepared. I think fewer than 25% of the victims had wills, and that ended up causing great problems." Feinberg had to decide who would receive what, occasionally with relatives arguing bitterly.
If you don't have a will--or, like 40% of those who do, haven't updated it in five years--you could be bequeathing a legacy of heartache. Before next week:
• Consider writing your own will using software such as WillMaker, available at nolo.com for around $50.
• If your estate is complicated, find an attorney with expertise in estate planning and a history of practicing in your state. Expect to pay $500 or more, depending on your situation.
• For more tips, visit findlaw.org, a legal-resources website. --PAT REGNIER AND JUDY FELDMAN