No will required?

Several years ago my husband and I went to a lawyer asking to have a will prepared. He said we didn't need one and wouldn't until our net worth exceeded propperty over $60,000. Do we need a will? -- N. W.

Your "several years" must have been before 1976, when the federal estate-tax exclusion was $60,000. Since 1976 the exclusion has escalated, and the recent tax will excludes all assets passing to a surviving spouse. If this is your only concern, you may not need a will. However, a will provides for other contingencies, such as a couple killed at the same time in an accident.

A will also permits you to specify a guardian for your minor children, if any. You may wish to give money, certain other assets, such as heirloom jewelry , or both to a specific person. A will permits this. I continue to recommend that all people have a will prepared and kept up to date to ensure that assets reach the desired beneficiaries. The cost of drawing a will with the help of a lawyer in a legal clinic is not expensive. Update

Previously "Moneywise" suggested that keeping $30,000 in one certificate of deposit in one institution did not detract from the security over the alternative of diversifying by depositing $10,000 in separate CDs in different institutions. One reader reports that an attempt to withdraw funds before maturity from a single $30,000 CD would impose an early-withdrawal penalty for the entire CD. More than a year ago, a similar question was answered by suggesting that having several CDs could avoid this possibility. This suggestion met with denials by officials at various savings-and-loan associations. Thus, it appears that various institutions set their own policies. Before investing cash in CDs in one lump certificate, ask about the policy. Most savings institutions, I have discovered, will charge an early-withdrawal penalty only on the cash withdrawn from a CD before maturity, unless withdrawal leaves less than the minimum required for that class of CD. Thus, you could withdraw $5,000 from a $15,000 money market CD ($10,000 minimum) and pay the early-withdrawal penalty only on the $5,000. The CD would continue with $10,000 until maturity. But if you withdraw more than $5,000, the full CD would be withdrawn and subject to penalty, because the remaining amount was less than the $10,000 minimum. Other minimums could apply to other classes of CDs.

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