Bah Hum Bug to Estate Planning, We Should All Die Without a Will (Part 2) – What is a Will?

A will is a legal instrument which states how a person’s property is to be distributed at their death.  It only takes effect after a person’s death and when admitted to probate.  A will is an important document because it allows the person making the will to pass property in the manner that they desire.  It also can make allocations for disabled beneficiaries, arrange for the management of inheritances for minors, avoid problems in blended families and other difficult circumstances. Specifically, a will should name an independent executor without bond; dispose of all property; cover all conceivable contingencies such as minors, disabled beneficiaries, deaths out of order and special needs planning for incapacitated persons.

The requirements for a valid will are that the person signing the will must be at least eighteen years of age; the will must be signed by the person making the will; there needs to be two attesting witnesses; and each witness must sign in the presence of the person making the will.  Even in light of its’ somber connotations and perceived complexities, a will requires few formalities and with legal guidance from a qualified attorney, can be properly crafted to ensure that the wishes of the person making the will are respected.   It is also important to reiterate that a will does not take effect until after death and admitted to probate.  This allows the person making the will to change or revoke the previous will as often as they like during their lifetime.  Should someone wish to decide how their real and personal property are to be distributed upon their death, having a valid will is an excellent option.  Otherwise, trust our Government and Courts to do what is best for you and your family.