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View Full Version : Do You Have A Legal Will?

03-11-2007, 12:01 AM
I have been meaning to start a thread on a subject that causes many people to look blank when it is brought up. People generally do not like to discuss death and dying, but if they are made aware of the emotional and financial consequences of dying intestate (without a legal will), they will put some thought into drafting a will.

Anna Nicole Smith, both in life and in death, has single-handedly made that traditionally boring law school course – Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning – exciting again. Her will was made public in a Florida courtroom and is a case study of how NOT to draft one.

A will is important for everyone, but particularly those who have children. I want to take this opportunity to urge those who do not have a will to consider drafting one or at least begin to think about it and talk about it. The requirements are not onerous: you must be at least 18 years old, be of “sound mind,” try not to handwrite or do one orally, sign and date your will in front of two witnesses, and keep this will in a place where your executor (you have one, don’t you?) can find it when you die.

Just remember – intestacy is not a good thing.

03-11-2007, 05:44 AM
So, a will does not have to be on file somewhere, like a county courthouse or something?

Also, is there anything wrong with the executor being a spouse?

Thanks for the info, BTW. This is one of those things that I keep thinking about once in awhile, but never seem to do anything about.:rolleyes:

03-11-2007, 09:53 AM
No, a will does not have to be filed in any courthouse. Real estate deeds of trust, however, need to be recorded, but not wills. Also, do not put your will inside a safe deposit box.

There is nothing wrong with appointing your spouse as executor, but I generally do not counsel that since there is always the chance that both of you die in the same accident. One way is to have you appoint your spouse in your will, and your spouse appoint Uncle Elroy in her will.

Draft one soon while you are thinking about it.

03-11-2007, 04:22 PM
What if we don't have an Uncle Elroy?:p

Seriously, thanks for the info, vagabond.

03-11-2007, 04:40 PM
A good Financial Planner will also strongly recommend having a legal will. Why build wealth without having a plan to distribute it after your demise?

A question I've always had is:

Is it necessary to have a lawyer draft you will? Assuming there isn't anything to far out of the ordinary, could one get by with a software "fill in the blank" solution?

I'd guess that a will drafted by a lawyer would be specific to a client and possibly have better clarity when the will is executed. However, there seems to be resistance to visiting a lawyer for a will based on a cost benefit perception.

Unfortunately, you're not around when you need a Will the most.

03-11-2007, 08:59 PM
Those do-it-yourself software wills are not that bad, just be careful in choosing the most comprehensive one. Many people who go to a lawyer in the first place have questions about estate planning or trusts. People with estates of $1 million or more should consult an estate lawyer anyway. If his lawyer is any good, he would suggest that a will be drafted along with the other documents. A really, really good lawyer will also suggest drafting a Living Will (health care directive).

For general information, try looking at

I am not averse to reviewing your will or any member of APC, under certain circumstances, rules and understandings.