Trust and Estates Newsletters
Although estimates vary, it’s pretty safe to say that more than 50 percent of the people who could make and leave a will fail to do so.
State statutes of descent and distribution are usually supplemented by other statutes or court rulings governing inheritance in unusual circumstances. This article discusses some of those unusual circumstances.
In a civilized society, a legal mechanism for dealing with a deceased person’s property is essential. Think of the chaos that would result if, when someone died, the law allowed anyone free access to take all or any part of the deceased person’s property on a "first come" basis. Instead, we have developed a system that protects and sometimes directs the distribution of property on a persons death. Our laws recognize that some order must be maintained in the situation and so they provide, among other things, for what is called the right of "freedom of testation" and a legal process to deal with those estates that have exercised that right, as well as those that have not.
The body of a will is where is where the testator directs the disposition of his or her estate. This article discusses the clauses before the body of the will and the clauses and signature lines after the body of the will, that are necessary to comply with the customs and requirements–the formalities–for the making of a will.
A written will is obviously required to be in writing. What the writing requirement really means is that the medium a will is written in must be sufficiently permanent. The medium must be permanent enough to provide a reliable record of the testator’s testamentary desires for the probate court.