Is creating a will right for you?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Forbes survey from earlier this year says nearly half of Americans over the age of 55 do not have a will.

So, should you have one? And are there other options?

7 On Your Side's Michael Finney spoke to Professor Eric Rakowski from Berkeley Law.

Watch the video above to see the entire interview.

Off camera, Professor Rakowski offers more advice in regards to wills and trusts.

If people have property such as real estate and finance accounts such as bank accounts, 401k, and IRA's, they should look into wills and revocable trusts.

People should consider a will if they have children who are minors.

Otherwise, he suggests people look into revocable trusts since families do not have to go through an executor and probate after a loved one passes away, which can save the family money.

But no matter what, people should see legal help before creating a will or a revocable trust, if possible.

"I think that most people benefit from speaking with a good attorney, who can help them understand their options better than printed or online resources," he said.

"(Lawyers) can explain how best to accomplish their aims, and who can customize documents to achieve those ends. Estate planning for many people involves coordinating a will, a revocable trust, joint tenancies in bank accounts or real property, pay-on-death designations in financial accounts or retirement plans, and life insurance," he adds.

"For those with few assets, little money to spare, and simple objectives, online or software alternatives might suffice, and almost certainly will be better than nothing. If they follow instructions carefully," Professor Rakowski said. But he still has this advice. "Seeing a lawyer is likely to be a sound investment, even though it costs a lot more than a DIY option."

If people need further guidance on wills, trusts, and estate planning, he recommends The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and Nolo Press to help with their research before possibly seeking a lawyer.

Take a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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