The first tool you will need in your estate plan is a will (the actual name is a “Last Will and Testament”). A will is a formal legal document stating how you want your estate distributed—i.e., leaving gifts of certain dollar amounts to various individuals or institutions, or dividing the estate into percentages or shares. It is submitted to the court after you die.

If you do not have a will, the courts will dispose of your property via intestacy laws. This means that the people who inherit your property will be determined by nothing more than their degree of relation to you. When this happens, the court will not even consider your lifetime wishes for the disposition of your property and hard earned assets. However, the Law Offices of Peters and Associates, PLLC can assist you in successfully drafting a will, which will prevent the court from deciding anything related to your assets and allow you to control the division of your estate.

Contents of a Will

  • The person’s name, city, and state of residence;
  • Appointment of the Personal Representative (executor);
  • Appointment of the guardian for minor children;
  • Statement of specific transfers (bequests);
  • Statement of who gets the balance of the estate;
  • Instructions for the executor to follow and powers granted;
  • A description of controls you want over bequests to minors;
  • A place for the testator to sign and date the will; and
  • A declaration that two witnesses sign stating that they witnessed the signing and that the testator was of sound mind. A notary public signs this section as well.

Proper Will Execution

A will must meet specific requirements to be a valid document that controls the disposition of the testator’s estate. At the time that the will is created, the testator must satisfy each of the following elements:

  1. Have the proper capacity, or ability to understand his/her decisions
  2. Have the intent to create a will
  3. Sign and date the will in the presence of two witnesses, and
  4. Never subsequently revoke the will.

A well-drafted will should be type-written, signed by the estator in the presence of two witnesses, and it should also include a self-proving affidavit signed by the testator, his two witnesses, and a notary. The self-proving affidavit is an affidavit attached to the will wherein the testator and his witnesses swear to the fact that the testator signed the will in the presence of the witnesses and that he intended it to be his will and had the required capacity to create a will. The affidavit also confirms that each of the witnesses were over the age of 14 at the time they signed the will and that they saw each other sign the Will.