Wills & Testament

You need to ensure you have a will, a revocable trust, along with an advanced directive and durable power of attorney for healthcare, and a financial power of attorney. Remember that it is best to get these documents prepared by someone who is qualified, especially a revocable living trust. Revocable Living Trusts need to be properly funded otherwise you create more of a problem for your loved ones.

If we have these documents in place, we protect our loved ones.


With a Will, we express our desires for the disposition of our assets, be they many or few. We designate who will take care of our young children. To me, this is the most important reason to make a Will. To protect our children. We don’t want them going to someone who doesn’t share our value system. We want them to be raised with the same values we would have instilled in them had we not died before they became adults. Even if you don’t have any children, you still need a Will.

Each state has its own formal requirements for preparing and signing a Will.


You need declare that the document you’re signing is your Will.

There should be at least two or three witnesses for your signature. They must sign the Will in each other’s presence.

States have specific requirements for how your signature and the signatures of the witnesses must be worded.


There are three types of Wills

Holographic Will: This is handwritten, without witnesses. Only a few states recognize Holographic Wills, and only in very particular circumstances.

Oral Wills or “Nuncupative Wills”: These are only recognized in a few states and usually only in compelling situations, such as the impending death of a soldier in wartime.

Self-proving Will: This is one that has been witnessed and signed with all the formalities required by state law. The Self-proving Will saves a great deal of time and effort when it turns out that one or more witnesses cannot be located or are deceased.

The Will Should Include:

You are of sound mind, as you are reading and signing the will;

The names, locations and dates of birth of your immediate family, including your spouse and all children, including adopted children. If there are any, illegitimate, stepchildren, talk with your lawyer about whether to name them to avoid claims that you have simply left them out and would have provided for them if you’d been thinking of them;

A guardian and an alternate guardian for any minor children should be appointed. Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether you should have a separate guardian to manage their finances;

You should have a list of who should inherit specific items of property. In some states, this is handled more informally with a separate list that can be frequently updated, which is kept with the Will:

What will happen to any remaining property not specifically mentioned by you?

It will name your “executor”. This is the person responsible for carrying out the directions you leave in your Will, such as distributing the property and paying any debts and taxes.

Updating Your Will:

The Will should be updated whenever any of these instances occur:

You marry or divorce.

You give birth to or adopt a child.

When a family member or other beneficiary of your estate dies.

When someone you’ve named as an executor, trustee or guardian is no longer able to fulfill that role.

When you decide to change an executor, trustee or guardian.

When you want to change the way your property will be distributed.

When you move to another state.

When your net worth increases dramatically.

How Do You Revise a Will?

A will can be revised by the following means:

Codicil: A codicil is a formal amendment to the Will. It is used when you make minor changes to the Will.

If you decide, for whatever reason to prepare an entirely new Will, you need to revoke the prior Will.

If an independent event, such as divorce or adoption, occur. Again, your state laws vary as to the effect these events may have on the validity of your Will.

Making a Will is a sobering experience. However, you are doing for your loved ones. When you die, they will be happy that you took the time to take care of this important item. A Will does have to go through Probate Court. This is the main reason for having a Revocable Living Trust along with your Will.

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