DEAR BRUCE: I am married with two grown children, and we live in New Mexico. My wife has no children. In both of our names, we have two cars, credit cards and a home, which is paid off. My investments (mutual funds) are in my name, and my wife is the beneficiary.
Each of us has a will, which is signed and notarized. Would the will be considered valid as notarized? Is a will necessary in our case? — I.S., New Mexico
DEAR I.S.: The only way you can determine if a will is valid is by having it examined and written by a licensed attorney in that jurisdiction. I am quite confident that all wills must be witnessed, and in most cases they need to be notarized to become valid. In any case, consult a New Mexico attorney to be certain that the will is properly drawn and executed.
DEAR BRUCE: Do you have any recommendations for someone who has credit-card debt? I have always made just the minimum payments, but I am now having a lot of trouble managing even that. I am making late payments on some of them and don’t know what to do. Are there any debt-settlement companies that are trustworthy, and is this something I should look into? — S.P., via email
DEAR S.P.: Because you have been making only minimum payments, you are already in trouble.
There are many companies out there that can help you. You may wish to consult one of them, but if you are asked for money up front, run!
The major problem here is getting your affairs in order so you can meet the minimum payments. But it will take you many, many years of making minimum payments to retire the obligations.
You can consult with your credit-card companies and explain the situation; ask if there is a possibility of reducing your monthly payments. Lenders generally prefer to have a steady stream of minimum payments rather than none at all.
If you choose to consult with the credit consulting companies, be 100 percent aware of what they offer and what their charges will be.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided. The Bruce Williams Radio Show can now be heard 24/7 via iTunes and at www.taeradio.com.
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