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Where there's a will, there probably also should be a lawyer involved

Although most of us won't have to worry about the federal estate tax, regardless of what it finally looks like pending Congressional action or inaction, almost everyone needs a will.

Last will and testament copy The "Your Money" column in today's New York Times examines four will-writing software programs and found that getting legal counsel to draft your last will and testament is usually a good idea.

Even even though the four programs that reporter Tara Siegel Bernard used -- Quicken Willmaker Plus 2011, LegacyWriter, LegalZoom and BuildaWill -- made drafting a will easy, Bernard says she "still needed a lawyer to help decode some seemingly standard clauses and their consequences in my home state of New York."

Ah, yes. States and their pesky laws.

Not only are there various requirements in each jurisdiction as to what is advisable or required to make your last wishes binding, you also might need to consider state estate and/or inheritance taxes.

And one thing you might not have thought about is that even if you're quite pleased with your computer written will is that you must be careful to properly conduct the will-signing ceremony. Witnesses and notaries and the like are required or all your carefully considered bequests could be for naught.

Yes, will-writing software is cheaper than an attorney's billable hours. But be sure to take into account the too-true rule that you usually get what you pay for.

When it comes to something that you ultimately won't be able to change, you want to make sure it is right, for your and your heirs' sakes.

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Elizabeth R.

I hate that those legal forms. People always seem so proud of themselves. I worked for a probate attorney for multiple years settling estates. I know how often those do not hold up in Court.

I always tell my clients that it can be thrown out and ignored if it is not properly written. If you insist on using it, at least do yourself a favor and pay an attorney to review it to make sure it will hold up in Court. Even if it is as basic as leaving everything to your three kids.

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