Dear Dave,

When it comes to making a will, would it suffice to sit down and write it all out on a piece of paper, then have it notarized?

Joyce


Dear Joyce,

I would never advise someone to write their own will, unless, of course, they’re an attorney in that state. Laws can vary from state to state, and some states may not look upon a document like that as being official under law. Some even require witnesses, and a notary might not be good enough.

If you’re trying to save money by doing it this way, I would strongly urge you to look at involving a lawyer as an investment. In most cases, having a reputable lawyer draw up a legally correct, state-specific will doesn’t cost a lot of money. At the very least, go online to USLegalForms.com. They have all kinds of state-specific legal forms, including wills.

Your last will and testament is one of the most important legal documents you’ll ever be part of. Please don’t try to do this yourself, Joyce. I’ve run into so many families who, in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one, were handed a handwritten piece of paper that wouldn’t hold up in court. That kind of thing just adds more stress to an already heartbreaking situation.

Dave


Are you sick of being in bondage to debt? Get free with Dave’s book “Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness”


Not ready for a house

Dear Dave,

I’m thinking about getting a secured credit card to help rebuild my credit score, because I’d like to buy a house. Do you think this is a good start toward getting my credit back on track and taking control of my finances? I make $50,000 a year, and I have $3,500 in debt and $2,100 in savings.

Maria


Dear Maria,

No, getting a secured credit card is not a good idea. Let me tell you a couple of things. No. 1, your income is your most powerful wealth-building tool. If you don’t have any payments, you have the ability to build wealth and be generous. When you have debt, all you do is send money out the door to make payments. So, being in debt is a guaranteed way to stay broke.

No. 2, you can get a home mortgage with no credit score through a manual underwriting. Just make sure you have a good, long history of paying other things, like your rent and utilities on time. You would also need to have all your debts paid off completely, and the accounts closed for at least six months.

I want you to become debt-free before you buy a home, Maria. I also want you to save an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses and a down payment before you buy a home. Buying a house when you’re broke and in debt is a really bad idea.

Dave

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.