Sunday, August 11, 2013

Will Organization


Most every legal document is too long to comprehend in the whole.  As such, over time we have devised a process of breaking these sensitive documents into sections of some kind in order to try to organize thoughts, intents and actions in some manageable chunks.  Most Wills will have many of the following clauses, articles, divisions, provisions, parts or chunks:

Most Wills should start with some form of Declaration Clause.  This clause makes the affirmative statement of who you are, that this document is intended to be your Will as of a certain date and that it revokes any prior Wills.

Some Wills have Introductory Provisions in addition to the Declaration.  Again, we state your identity, but maybe with more detail, such as your place of residence, age, and capacity.  We next flesh out the personal information to include marital status, including former marriages, spouses past and present, children, family, or the absence of any family.  We might also begin to identify friends and other beneficiaries.

After identification and bookkeeping language, we start getting into more substance.  We start by identifying all Property to be disposed of by the Will, and include particular gifts to particular beneficiaries.  After that, we typically have Residuary provisions, saying that anything not specifically given to a beneficiary goes to some one, some charity or maybe the Trust that you created with your Will.

Next we usually have Executor Provisions.  Who will be your representative after you die?  Who is charged with the job of executing the terms of your Will and making things go as you intend?  This is your Executor.  These sections lay out the rights, rules, powers and obligations of this person or group of persons.   

Since we’ve dealt with stuff, if you have children, we will also have Guardian Provisions.  Who will be in charge of your minor children, (under the age of 18).  Obviously, your spouse or ex-spouse, but stranger things have happened, and we have seen where both parents die.

We can also send your assets through your Will to a Trust, and so Trust Provisions could come next.  In some instances we can create a Trust here, or send items to a Trust that already exists.

If you create a Trust, then you may also have Trustee Provisions.  While the Executor handles the disposition of the Will, the Trustee handles the disposition of the Trust.  Frequently this is the same person.  Sometimes it may be a commercial entity.  These sections lay out the rights, rules, powers and obligations of this person or group of persons.

Almost done, we begin to wrap up with the Concluding Provisions.  These include a lot of the weird clauses that have proven necessary over time in order to create a valid death time document that a court can enforce.

Finally, we wrap up and sign off with Signatures and Attestations.  You as the maker of the Will and of course Witnesses, who we discussed in prior blogs.

Not every Will will have all of these provisions.  For example, if you have no children, you need not bother with the Guardianship sections.  More complex estates, with extensive assets and more complex families may have even more descriptive sections.  Point is, this is generally how Wills are structured.  

The last few Blogs were about some basic Will aspects, trying to catch your interest and get you thinking about Estate Planning.  Hopefully you will review your Estate Plan with you're “A” Team, or at least begin to seek out an Estate Planning Attorney to start this process.  Stay tuned for future blogs.  However, if you have any questions, feel free to respond below, or if you are interested in learning more about an Estate Plan, Wills, Trusts, Advanced Healthcare Directives, or Divorce, Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Division, Modifications, Remarriage, or Pre-Nuptial Agreements, please contact me at please contact me at fbegun@gmail.com, or through my other websites, www.fcbegun.com, or www.linkedin.com for Fred Begun.