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Creating a Will

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What are Some Tips for Creating a Will?

Creating a will is an important step in managing one’s estate properly.  Drafting wills generally involves much planning and evaluating of one’s property, as well as the potential beneficiaries who will be receiving the property.  When creating a will, some tips to follow may include:

  • Understand who can make a will:  Only persons with “testamentary capacity” can create wills.  This means that they’re of legal age and also possess the mental capacity to make legal decisions
  • Name your beneficiaries carefully:  Proper assigning of beneficiary rights can prevent disputes in the future
  • Choose a trustworthy executor:  Your executor will be in charge of distributing the property; you should choose an executor who is knows your intentions and desires
  • Be sure to clearly identify the property:  The property should be identifiable from the will documents.  If the property can’t be identified, it can lead to will disputes

Thus, a major aspect of creating a will is to ensure that it’s written in a way that is understandable and won’t lead to any will contests in the future.  Each state may have different laws when it comes to drafting a will.

What are Some Terms to Include in a Will?

When creating a will, your will should meet the requirements as listed by state laws.  These include naming of the beneficiaries and the executor, identifying the property, and having it signed and witnessed.

In addition to state requirements, you may wish to include other will terms such as a no-contest clause or other clauses.  A no-contest clause will prevent a beneficiary from collecting a property distribution if they file a claim contesting the will.  Other clauses can also address whether the will can be modified, and whether disputes should be solved through negotiations. 

Can a Will be Modified?

Generally speaking, a will can be subject to modification for various reasons.  Modifying a will may be necessary to prevent unwanted distributions of property.  For instance, the will creator can make another document that either adds to the will or cancels it and creates a new one.  Any modifications to a will document need to be executed with the same “will formalities” as the original in order to be legally valid.

In some cases, the court will often order a will to be modified if it’s found that the terms are illegal or are unfair to the beneficiaries. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Creating a Will?

There are several requirements that need to be met when creating a will.  It’s in your best interests to hire a lawyer for help with trusts or wills.  Your attorney can assist you in drafting and reviewing the documents to ensure that they’ll be legally enforceable.  Also, an attorney can assist you with other issues such as will contests, or will revisions.  A qualified attorney in your area may provide you with legal advice on these and other matters.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 02-22-2013 04:08 PM PST

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