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Tiny red ants and when to redraw your will

Q What is the best way to convince a colony of tiny red ants that mi casa no es su casa?


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Austin, Texas

A First, identify the species of ant. "No ant species is the same, and different ants will react differently to any one kind of treatment," says Philip Cooper at Cooper Pest Control in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Enlist your local pest-control company to help you with the identification. After that's done, "pesticide treatments can be used on ants who live outside, or if they live underneath slabs then cracks can be sealed up. Baits can be used inside or outside the house [for instance FluorGuard or Outsmart], and these are environmentally friendly solutions because baits are easily biodegradable."

Mr. Cooper also suggests making your yard less hospitable. Carpenter ants, for example, love mulch piles.

Q When should we redraw our will? Every few years? How do we choose an executor? Who should have copies?


Holliston, Mass.

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A As in financial and insurance planning, it is wise to review estate planning documents every three to five years, according to Peter Samek, an attorney at Samek & Associates in Boston, Mass. Changes in laws, your income, and family structure are also triggers for rewriting a will.

For example:

* Tax-law changes periodically allow more of your assets to be inherited tax free.

* Marriage in some states invalidates a will entirely. Divorce often nullifies gift provisions for the former spouse and the designation of the former spouse as executor.

* Increased financial worth necessitates review of will provisions as well as estate and income-tax implications. There are ways to ensure that less of the additional wealth goes to taxes and that more goes to beneficiaries.

An executor has the responsibility for collection of the assets of the estate, identification of liabilities, filing for probate (proving in court that the will is authentic) as required, and distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Care should be taken to select an executor who will not be conflictive with the heirs and is capable of the tasks required.

Generally, it is not advisable to distribute will copies to heirs, loved ones, or acquaintances. You may decide to change the will and that may pose problems in your relationships with those holding copies. But some people want their executor and loved ones to have copies, either for their approval or so that they know the wishes of the writer.

* Readers should consult a local attorney. The specific facts, state laws, and procedures in each case may vary widely.

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