Wills Information Form:
Download Estate Planning and Will Information Sheet (PDF Version)
Will Information Form:
Download Estate Planning and Will Information Sheet (Word Version)
When an individual dies, many things have to happen. Funeral arrangements are made, burial preparations are undertaken, property and assets of the individual are collected and distributions of the individual’s property must be made to the appropriate entities or people. Thus, in its most basic sense, a Will is like an instruction book that allows people to make sure that everything is carried out and distributed as they would have wanted it to be. But a Will can also be much more than a simple set of instructions, it can also serve to ensure that the money, property, and business you worked so hard to build up and acquire are not stripped away by the tax man or exhausted through litigation while your family battles over who should get what.
In order to create a valid Will, several things must be done. The Will has to be in writing, simply saying what you want without ever writing it down (Nuncupative Wills) is not acceptable. The practice of requiring a Will to be written down is to help make it harder for scheming individuals to claim to be beneficiaries. The courts are very familiar with scheming family members, business partners, friends, or employees who claim that the testator (the person making the Will) said that a gift should be made to them.
Another requirement in order to make a valid Will is that the Will must be signed. Again, this is to protect the testator, the heirs, and the estate. For example, a testator may have prepared and executed a Will in 1980, and then in 2000 had another Will prepared but then thought better of the new Will prior to signing it. The signature requirement keeps the second Will from taking effect simply because it was written down. Two competent witnesses must also witness the signing of the Will by the testator.
Keep in mind, there are all sorts of other smaller details and technicalities that Wills have to avoid or contain in order to be valid in whole or in part. For example, a Will must satisfy the Rule Against Perpetuities, it cannot give away certain types of property, it should not be inconsistent within itself, and other such technicalities. As such, drafting a Will can be very difficult and incredibly complex, given the fact that a cookie cutter template does not always work for every individual.
Luckily, Wills and Estate Planning are some of our focuses at the Gabriel Law Office, PLLC. We are willing and able to work with you and determine how to create the best Will and Estate Plan for you. Let us help make sure that legal issues are not an issue for you or your family.
For more information on Wills and how they can be used as a basic estate planning tool, check out:
Otherwise, be sure to check out our other Estate Planning pages and links: