Doing Your Homework Before Writing A Will

Posted on: 20 April 2022


When you are ready to write a will, it's advisable to use a lawyer so that your will is more likely to be accepted by the probate court. A will with illegal provisions can cause it to be invalid. Before you see your lawyer, it's a good idea to be ready for the meeting by doing a bit of homework first. Read on to see what you should be doing before your will appointment.

Should You Go Alone?

Most of the time, it's better to speak to your lawyer on your own. Otherwise, the will could come under questioning if it appears that you are being unduly influenced by someone. In some cases, a lawyer will visit you if it makes things easier.

Show Identification 

If you don't have government-issued identification, be sure to obtain it before you appear at the law office. Though it might seem difficult to believe, some people impersonate others to fraudulently influence the making of a will.

Revoke Previous Wills

In most cases, your lawyer will include a clause in the will stating that all previously dated wills are now invalid with this new will. This is common language along with stating that you are of sound mind. You can also expect that one or more people unrelated to you will sign the will as witnesses. Usually, the lawyer will ask others in the office to provide those signatures along with a notary signature, if required.

Name Your Beneficiaries

As you begin to consider how you want to leave your estate, it might be best to begin by making a list of your property. List all real estate, vehicles, bank and investment accounts, valuable jewelry, coins, precious metals, and more. Then, decide who you would like to inherit those assets when you pass away.

Name a Personal Representative

Known also as an executor or administrator, this person should be someone you trust and that is responsible enough to ensure that your will is carried out according to your specifications. In some states, you can have co-executors and you can also name a backup personal representative in case the first choice is unable to perform the duties.

Add a Residual Clause

This clause should not be left out because it serves several purposes. The clause states that anything not specifically mentioned in the will should be left to a certain person. That covers anything acquired after the will was created and the life insurance policy proceeds when the beneficiary precedes the testator in death. It helps tie up loose ends and reduces the potential for conflict over any unnamed property.

Speak to a probate planning lawyer to learn more about preparing to make a will.