Preparing a Will

A will is a testator’s final expression regarding the disposition of his or her property. It is important to seek legal counsel in drafting a will because, though some people’s wills may be very simple in the issues they need to address, the training of an estate planning attorney is critical to avoid potential challenges that arise.

Unintentional Disinheritance?—An Omitted Child

It is possible that a testator forgets to update his or her will after either having or adopting a child. Without a revision of the will that child will not be provided for under the will. Probate law has developed to protect children from such omissions. There can be no unintentional disinheritance. Here is the […]

Is an Ex-Spouse a Surviving Spouse?

The simple answer to this is “no.” To be a surviving spouse, the spouse had to be married to the decedent at the time of death. What about separated? Then the answer is “yes.” If a separation agreement, formed by the spouses and decreed by a court, does not formally terminate the status of “husband” […]

Entitlement of Surviving Spouse Under a Premarital Will

So what if you created a will before you got married? What if you fail to revise your will, or draft a new one, before you pass away? Under the Uniform Probate Code (and adopted in many states) there is a presumption that the decedent intended to include the surviving spouse in the will, though […]

The Preparation of a Will to Avoid Intestacy

A will is a testator’s final expression regarding the disposition of his or her property. There are many issues that should be addressed in a will, such as: the treatment of the decedent’s body (such as burial or cremation); the treatment of the decedent’s body parts (in cases of donation); the care for family members; […]

Joint Wills & Mutual Wills

Thus far all discussion has concerned wills with only one testator and provisions applicable to only the one testator’s plan for disposition of property. This is the most common approach to drafting a will. However, it is not the only available option for drafting a will. Here are two additional methods for drafting a will […]

Who’s Will is This Again?

In my previous post “So Who’s Will is This?” I focused on the importance of clearly identifying the testator of a will. While utilizing suggestions I offered in that post remain useful, I here want to discuss some of the basic rules that apply signatures on a will. Though these vary by jurisdiction, here are […]


What if a recipient under a will does not want to accept what the will offers them? When a person who is entitled to take under a will rejects the property offered, the recipient is said to renounce their right under the will. When this occurs, typically the will is executed as though the renunciator […]


Once a will has been written, it is ideal to give the designated executor a copy for safe keeping. This will help to make sure the will can be found upon the testator’s death. Also, giving a copy to another person is helpful to keep in mind that the testator should not make any changes […]

So Who’s Will is This?

Perhaps this is so obvious it could go without mentioning, but it is critical that the testator of a will is clearly identified. To accomplish this effectively, there are a few practices that are commonly utilized. Generally, use your complete name with perhaps an initial for a name that has never actually been used. If […]

Tax Benefit of Receiving Property Under a Will—Stepped Up Basis

Under tax code section 1012, the general rule for determining a taxpayer’s basis in property is the cost of such property. Determination of basis is critical to calculate the amount of a gain or loss earned or sustained in a disposition of property. Determination of basis can depend on how the property in which a […]