Having at least a basic, simple will is a good idea for everyone. Here's what they do, how to create one, and legal issues that may arise.
Why You Need a Will
Everyone should have the most basic estate planning document: a simple will.
Online Wills & Do-It-Yourself Will Making Software
Everybody needs a will - but most people don't need to pay a lawyer to draft it. Online wills and software can guide you through the process easily and accurately.
Living Trusts vs. Wills
Both a living trust and a will serve to transfer property after we pass away, but they work very differently.
Should You Make a New Will?
When does a will need to be updated, or replaced with a new will? Usually, significant life events trigger the need for a new document.
How To Determine if a Will is Valid
It isn't usually hard to tell whether or not a will meets your state's legal requirements for validity. Here's what to look for.
Are Handwritten or "Holographic" Wills Valid?
A holographic or handwritten will can be a binding legal document, in some states and in some circumstances.
Is an Oral (Spoken but Not Written) Will Valid?
Oral wills might have worked when many people were illiterate, but not today. These days, a written and signed will is necessary.
Is a "Deathbed Will" Valid?
Last-minute wills, often called "deathbed wills", can be just as valid as a will you create in advance yourself or in a lawyer's office.
Using a State's "Statutory" Will
In a few states, you may run across a simple fill-in-the-blanks form will provided by the state. They're not common, primarily because they are so inflexible.
How a "Pour Over" Will Works
If the deceased person left a living trust as well as a will, you're likely to be dealing with a "pour-over" will.
What is a Self-Proving Will?
Wills with a "self-proving affidavit" attached are easier to prove valid in probate court.
Using Video for a Last Will & Testament?
There's really no such thing as a video will--you still need an old-fashioned, signed, paper document.
When There's No Will: Intestate Succession Laws
In the absence of a will, the closest relatives of the deceased inherit, in an order that's set out in your state's law.
What Does The Executor Do When There's No Will?
If you're the executor and can't find a will--or the will you've got isn't valid--state law steps in.
The Witness Requirement to Execute a Will
A will typically must be properly witnessed to be valid.
How Does Divorce Affect a Will?
Does a former spouse still inherit from the estate? Depends on where you live.
How to Tell if a Will Was Revoked or Replaced
It's not enough just to find the will--the executor also must make sure that the will-maker didn't revoke or replace it later.
How a Will Can Be Contested (Challenged)
It's usually difficult to successfully challenge a will--but it happens.
Problems of a Joint Will for Married Couples
Any estate planning lawyer will tell you that a joint will, usually created by a married couple, is generally a bad idea.
The Meaning of "Children" in a Will
It sounds simple--but in many cases, the definition of children in a will can become a contentious issue.
How "Undue Influence" Can Invalidate a Will
If the will doesn't truly reflect the wishes of the deceased person because someone unethically pressured that person, family members can file an undue influence lawsuit in probate court.
Wills: Questions & Answers
The will is the central estate planning document for most people. Here are some questions we have received, and answers.