wills lawyer Definition of a Will

Since I am a wills lawyer I can explain wills. A will uses the probate process to disburse property upon death. And a will appoints a guardian for children. During your life you own your property and make decisions for your minor children. However,  after death a person you appoint, called a “personal representative” manages your property. And the “estate” owns the property. But, the personal representative owes the estate legal duties. For example, the first duty is loyalty. Similarly, the second duty is honesty. And, the personal representative must account to the court.

Wills Lawyers Create Wills

A wills lawyer creates a will for his client. The client (called the “testator”) tells the the lawyer their intentions. First, the testator must tell the attorney who will process the estate (the “personal representative”). Second, the testator must tell the attorney who will receive the testators property at death (the “devisees”). Finally, the testator must pick a guardian for minor children.  The personal representative, the guardian and the devisees may be the same person. On the other hand they may be different. The testator must be competent when the will is created. And, a will must be in writing. In addition, it must be witnessed by two people when it is signed. With a properly drawn will there are many required clauses. If required clauses are not included the will is not invalid. However, it may require court interpretation. In sum, a person should not draft a will using off the shelf software.

Wills and estate planning

Estate planning uses three different types of wills. First, a “simple will” (which we will see below is not so simple). Second, a will with a testamentary trust (a will creating a trust). And, finally, a “pour over will”. Each type of will serves a particular function. The simple will is used to create an estate that will go through probate. On the other hand, a testamentary trust creates both an probate estate and a trust which arises upon death. And, the pour over will picks up assets that have not been included in a revocable living trust, creates an estate for them, and then transfers them to the trust. In conclusion, you need a wills lawyer to determine which type of will best suits your needs.

Problems with  Distribution

Wills are not flexible. Problems often arise with changes in circumstances. For example if a devisee dies before the testator and there is no alternative stated in the will the gift will lapse and it will pass to others to whom the testator did not wish to gift. Likewise, if the gift no longer exists it will adeem and the devisee will receive nothing. Finally, if the value of a gift changes the entire distribution may be reduced. In this case abatement occurs. In other words, people farther down the “list” will receive less than the testator intended.Thus, there is no such thing as a “simple” will. A carefully drafted will must address all of these possibilities. This, and the cost of probate, is the reason that trust centered estate planning is superior to using a traditional will.

In conclusion, this page is only intended to give a thumbnail description of will information. But, for more in depth information see the following: Detailed Will Information

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