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 Most savings institutions, I have discovered, will charge an early-withdrawal penalty only on the cash withdrawn from a CD before maturity, unless withdrawal leaves less than the minimum required for that class of CD.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 But if you withdraw more than $5,000, the full CD would be withdrawn and subject to penalty, because the remaining amount was less than the $10,000 minimum.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.

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.