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are advised to make out a will as soon as they have some sizable assets, but since “sizable” is a subjective term, I advise people to have a will if they feel that they have property that they would like to give to someone. Certainly by the time you have children, you should have a will, as you will be able to name your children’s guardian in your will.

Special note: Many investment companies will ask that you name a beneficiary for your accounts when you open them up. Usually, you will be allowed to name as many beneficia- ries as you want. For nonretirement accounts, ask that your account be a Transfer on Death account, which will allow you to place a beneficiary on it.

If you were to die without a will, you would be dying intestate. When you draw up a will, you reserve the right to decide how your property will be divided. By dying intestate, you are giving the courts the right to split up your property. This means that no matter what you promised people while you were living, the chances of those wishes being carried out are pretty slim.

Another problem for the beneficiaries of someone who has died intestate is that the courts will usually divide the property up accord- ing to living, lawful relatives in equal shares. You will lose control of your property, and it may wind up that your Aunt Bertha, who you intensely dislike, will receive a bulk of your estate, while your best friend since childhood receives nothing. Deathbed promises are not upheld in a court of law. And, if you die intestate without any heirs (in this case, family), your estate will pass to the state. The importance of a will shouldn’t be overlooked. We have strived to have control over our property and assets while we are alive. Why should we give up that control after we have died?

If you already have a will, you may need to go back and review it. Many times, I have seen clients get divorced but never change their wills. If they were to die today, their ex-spouses would receive their assets. Plus, recently there have been a number of changes with

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