Budget Blunders

Creating a Will

BLUNDER #4: Failing to make a will

No one wants to think about dying, especially when you've got a baby who depends on you so completely. But if you don't write a will and create a trust, your children may end up in financial, as well as emotional, distress if you die prematurely.

The number-one reason you need a will: So you, not some judge, get to name a guardian for your children. "I've seen many horrible battles between grandparents, friends, and other family members over custody of a child," says Robin Giles, a financial planner in Laguna Niguel, California. "It would be much better to make your wishes known while you're alive."

It's also critical that you establish a trust that specifies how and when your children will get their inheritance, and allows you to appoint a trustee to watch over the money. Without a trust, your children will have access to your entire estate at age 18. "That's too much money, too fast, too soon," says financial planner Chris Cooper, of Toledo, Ohio.

It's best to consult with an attorney to create a customized will and trust. Too time-strapped? That's no excuse: Make a DIY version with Quicken WillMaker Plus.

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