There are many things in this world that we cannot control like when we will pass away, but thankfully, we can control what happens to our property after death. Leaving behind an estate plan allows us to make sure that any of our surviving relatives- a surviving spouse or children- will be taken care of.
What is a will?
A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal document and estate planning tool that allows you to leave instructions for when you pass away. It allows you, the testator, to:
- indicate heirs- certain people or organization to inherit your property,
- assign a guardian for surviving dependents like your children or persons with disabilities,
- appoint a person to manage your property for your children while they are still minors,
- designate an executor who will be your personal representative to distribute your estate and fulfill your wishes as stated in the will you drafted.
If you need help to write a will and put your affairs in order, don’t be afraid to contact us. We at Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ are an Orem, Utah-based law firm specializing in estate planning which aims to give you the best of service with the highest level of integrity.
Wills are useful because they can be used to leave instructions that must be followed to the dot. However, most Americans do not leave a will. Individuals who pass away without a will are called intestate, and in these cases, their estate will be distributed according to state intestate succession laws.
Your estate will undergo probate, which is the process by which the state probate court will evaluate the probate estate and determine the beneficiaries to whom it must go.
Utah state law, according to the probate code, will give your inheritance first to your closest relatives which could be your spouse or children. In case you do not have them, your assets will be given to your next closest relatives such as your parents or grandchildren. This continues until an heir can be found.
Utah state will do its best to find a relative to give your estate to, no matter how distant. However, if no relative can be found, the state will take your estate and put it into the state school fund.
Additionally, in cases of intestacy, in place of an executor that you can name, the judge presiding in your case will appoint an administrator that will carry out the same function.
If you’re looking to create a will, or simply want to know more about estate planning including wills and trusts, contact our Orem estate planning attorneys today.
Requirements for Making a Will
The ability of a person to make a valid will is called his testamentary capacity, and to have testamentary capacity, a person must be at least 18 years of age and have sound mental capacity. The latter means a person must be in a disposition to able to:
- understand the nature and extent of his property,
- know his closest living relatives,
- understand the effects of estate-planning,
- put all these together and formally make a will.
Minors who are married or serving in the military are also allowed to make wills.
How do I make a will?
Wills can be typed out or handwritten. The latter is called a holographic will and caution must be made in using these because holographic wills will have to be further verified by handwriting experts later.
Additionally, a will does not have to be written by a lawyer, you can write it by yourself. There are just processes you have to follow to make your will valid. This varies from state to state; according to Utah state law, this will require the participation of two witnesses.
You must sign your will in front of these two witnesses and they must sign your will within a reasonable period after you do. To avoid any conflicts of interest, your witnesses shouldn’t be any of your beneficiaries or your lawyer who is helping you draft your will.
While a will does not have to be written by a lawyer, it is highly recommended that you consult with one. Wills are only one of the many estate-planning tools that you can use and consultation with an estate planning lawyer might help you understand your choices better and even pick the best tool.
Complicated wills should also be constructed with the aid of a lawyer, lest you run the risk of writing it poorly and making it invalid.
To know more about state-specific formalities in writing a will, don’t be afraid to contact a Utah estate planning attorney today. We are here to help you plan for the future so that your loved ones will receive what is rightfully theirs.
A will does not have to be notarized, and while a signed will is already a legally-binding document, you can support its strength by creating a self-proving affidavit. This is a document that attests to the authenticity of your will.
This is advantageous because when you die, your drafted will shall undergo the probate process. During this time, your executor will have to prove that the will you have left behind is indeed yours. A self-proving affidavit simply speeds up this process since that document already proves that the will is indeed yours.
A self-proving affidavit states your identity and the identity of your witnesses. It also states that you all concerned knew you were signing a will. This document must be signed in front of a notary.
Contesting a Will
A beneficiary may contest a will if he feels like he is not being given enough or if an heir feels that the will does not reflect the true will of the deceased. Common grounds for contests and revoking a will include proving the testamentary incapacity of the testator, undue influence, and state laws.
Undue influence means that the deceased person was put under extreme duress to coerce him into writing something down that he didn’t really want to when he was drafting the will. In this case, his free will was compromised. State laws, on the other hand, refer to the formalities that creating a will entails that are state-specific.
The contested will shall then undergo a proceeding to scrutinize its validity. This involves calling in the two individuals that witnessed the signing of the will. If the validity of the will is revoked, it will be disposed of and the last valid will shall be upheld. If there is none, state intestacy laws shall apply.
We at Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ are here to help you create a will that can stand the test of time. We are a Utah-based, estate-planning law firm and so we know how to make sure that your wills and testaments will be upheld in Utah. Consult our experienced estate planning attorneys today.