FEATURE ARTICLE: Being prepared with a will
In an effort to start the new calendar year off right, it is time to think about those issues that perhaps have taken a back seat; for instance, a will. If you are an adult with assets or a parent, you need to prepare yourself for the unexpected so that your assets and children are taken care of in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of your state’s statue; which may not be what you had intended for your belongings or your children.
Many individuals think that after their death, the spouse receives their inheritance (excluding joint ownership of a house); this is a false belief. Your inheritance will get divided between your spouse and children. If you have no children, it gets divided between your spouse and living parents. In the event of your and your spouse’s death, the courts will appoint a guardian for your children if there is not an appointed guardian in your will. Many individuals verbally appoint a guardian, but often fail to write it down.Verbally asking someone to take care of your children after your death will not hold up in court; you must create a will.
Hiring an attorney to look over your will is not a bad idea. Attorneys can think of things that you perhaps have overlooked; this can be particularly helpful if you are in a second or third marriage and have children with your previous spouses or your spouse has children from previous marriages. They can also assist you if you are part owner of a business or have many assets that could create a family dispute after your death.
In the event that you are single and without children, evaluate all of your assets as well as tangible property (referring to the contents of your home). If you would like specific pieces to go to certain people that are not related to you or perhaps a charity, then you need to name these individuals in the will.
Once the process of a will has been completed, make it valid. Some states do not find a handwritten will with just your signature binding. You may want to check with the state you reside in to make sure. Otherwise, type it and sign it in front of at least two witnesses and then have them sign it as well.
Keep it updated. Just because you created a will and made it valid, does not mean you are done. Review your living will every two years or if you get married, divorced or have children. You do not have to rewrite the entire will if you have acquired new assets; you may just add an amendment. Attorneys advise against making changes directly onto your will as this may nullify the entire will.
For more information on this topic visit bankrate.com or nolo.com. Both websites are helpful and educational.
MONEY SAVING TIP: Use less.
Purchasing appliances that are energy efficient to cut down on the utility bill is a wise idea. However, these appliances can be costly. Instead, have your power company do an “Energy Audit” on your home appliances. This audit is free for the consumer and it can teach you which of your appliances is braking the bank. If you live in a cooler climate, put a sweater on before turning on the heat/furnace. If your climate is more tropical, invest in fans. Fans can circulate air and are much less expensive than running the air conditioning unit. Check the air filters in the air conditioning/heating unit. Make sure they are clean and replace them regularly. This will allow your equipment to run more efficiently.
DID YO U KNOW that the price is wrong?…there’s a markup
Know before you spend. A few helpful calculations:
Bottled water: 4,000% markup.
Text messages: 6,000% markup. A typical text message costs you .20 cents and the phone company .3 cents to transmit, according to the Chicago Tribune. If the phone company applied text-message rates to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call. If the phone company applied text-message rates to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call.
Move theater popcorn: 1,275% markup.
Brand-name drugs: 200 to 3,000% markup.
Hotel minibar: 400% markup.
Coffee on the go: 300% markup. A $3 cup made by a barista costs .25 cents at home.
Wine at a restaurant: 300% markup.
Greeting cards: 200% markup.
In-room hotel movies: 200% markup.
Precut produce: 40% markup.