Drafting Your Last Will and Testament, Choice of Guardian, and Powers of Attorney
Prepare your family for the future
A will is essential at every stage of your life that upon your death, provides an opportunity to distribute your property and establish care for your loved ones, including children, spouse or significant other. A will allows you to express your wishes for what will happen with your property upon your death.
A will is necessary if you intend to leave property to someone , including someone who is not your blood relative, e.g., a domestic partner, a friend or a charity. Generally, if you die without a will, the court determines how your property is distributed — and the decisions the court makes might not reflect your desires. My law firm may draft a last will and testament that includes your intentions so your final wishes will be honored.
What constitutes a valid will?
Wills are not difficult to execute, but simple mistakes can render them invalid in whole or in part. Essential elements of a valid will include:
- — The testator must intend that the document created be a last will and testament at the time it is created. Therefore, the testator must have capacity, meaning sound mind and comprehension, and the testator must create the will voluntarily, without coercion, compulsion or undue influence.
- — A traditional will is written, signed by the testator and either affirmed by disinterested witnesses, including a self-proving affidavit. A disinterested witness is one who does not stand to gain by the execution of the will.
- — A statement within a will which is confusing or open to various interpretations can invalidate all or part of the will.
An error in the execution of your will can cause confusion in the court and rancor among your heirs.
Reviewing and changing your will and powers of attorney
As your life unfolds, your circumstances change and your concerns may shift. To remain current, you should review and update your will and powers of attorney every three to five years. I review your will and powers of attorney in light of your current finances, marital status and family situation. I will prepare a replacement will that addresses changes in your circumstances and outlook. Powers of attorney for your medical decisions and financial transactions are recommended.
Choice of a guardian for your minor children
Your choice of guardian allows you to make contingency plans for either the care of you or your minor children. For yourself, the court will consider your choice of guardian when another person seeks to establish a guardianship for you. Similarly, single parents or married couples must also consider the remote possibility of death in a common accident and should consider preparation of a choice of guardian. If you have not named a guardian for your children, the court appoints one, who may make child-rearing decisions contrary to your wishes. In a Choice of Guardian, you will identify who will be the recommended choice by you to the Court.