What is a will?

It is a revocable transfer that takes effect on death.

There are certain requirements for a will. First, you must be of legal age to make a Will. Second, you must be of sound mind, which means that you should know that you’re executing a Will, know the general nature and extent of your property, and know the objects of your bounty (i.e. who is expected to share in your estate). Third, you must intend to transfer your property. Fourth, the will must be written, properly signed, and witnessed. Last, if all the above requirements are met it must be properly executed.

What goes into the Will?

Gifts of personal property go into the Will. It is important to carefully identify all of the people and organizations you plan to give something to through your Will, including their addresses and relationship to you. When making gifts of specific property, you should be certain to identify the property carefully to avoid disputes about which items you meant. However, in my professional opinion, it is preferred to make gifs in broad categories of property, rather than in specifics. This is because many items of personal property may change during your life time. For example, you may buy a new car and sell an old one that was mentioned in the Will, which may create tension of who is entitled to the new car.

Gifts of real estate also go into the Will, but in many cases are accounted for outside of the Will in other documents such as a Power of Attorney or in the actual language of the Deed Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship. Remember, if you pass before the mortgage is paid off, then your estate will be responsible to pay off the debt. It should be noted that if your debts exceed your assets, then the debts must be paid first. These debts include funeral expenses, administrative expenses, family allowances, and taxes before the remainder is given to your heirs.

Any items that were not addressed in the Will typically go to the residuary. The residuary is arguably the most crucial part of the Will, because it addresses all assets not specifically disposed of by other parts of the Will.

Yes, you can. It is commonly called a tangible personal property memorandum. This is a separate handwritten or (preferably) typed instrument that is incorporated into the will by reference. As long as the tangible personal property memorandum is executed and in existence at the time the Will is signed, then it is valid.

Who will make sure my wishes are upheld?

An executor is the person who you choose to administer your estate after you die. Executors can have dealings with your estate, such as the power to buy, lease, sell and mortgage real estate; to borrow and lend money; and to exercise various tax elections. (It’s an executrix in the case the appointment is a woman.)

Now that you know who you want to leave your priceless possessions to, you must make sure that your will is properly executed and stored. To properly execute the Will, you must have two witnesses to witness your signing of the Will. Then it is import that you store your Will where it can be found. If your Will is hidden, then it may stay hidden and never found, then your wishes will never be executed.

Be advised that any time after the Will is executed it can be amended or changed to adequately suit your needs.

Positives to having a Will:

  • It is a source of security to your family and your irreplaceable possessions, in many cases it provides a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind.
  • It helps maintain order after your death.
  • Passing without a Will may be more expensive because of unnecessary fees that could be avoided.


Members of our Team are standing by ready to help you with your Will. If you have any questions about a Will feel free to contact us at 740.346.2899 for a telephone consultation.

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