On August 15, 2013

Some Colorado residents may believe that writing a will is as simple as noting their wishes on a sheet of paper and signing their name, but wills are actually complex legal documents that require significant attention to detail. Once implemented, however, a will can guarantee that a testator’s children, debts, and possessions are taken care of after his or her death.

In order to streamline the process, one Colorado financial advisor recommends preparing certain information prior to working with a lawyer to draft a will. Creating a comprehensive catalogue of possessions, assets, and debts is the first step toward formulating a will. This catalogue may help to determine whether the estate is worth enough to cover existing debts and to outline which portion of the estate each beneficiary should receive.

In addition to listing beneficiaries, testators should also name their primary and secondary executors (assuming that these friends or family members have agreed to be executors). After a testator’s death, an executor takes control over fulfilling the will, including arrangements for minor children. Therefore, it is important for a testator to specify instructions for his or her children’s care, such as preferred guardians, so the state does not determine their living situations after the testator’s death. Executors should also know the location of the finalized will.

Working with an advisor to draft a will can ensure that it is completed correctly and thoroughly so it can be enforced by a lawyer knowledgeable in probate administration after the testator dies. Even Colorado residents who have previously drawn up documents may benefit from revisiting them with a lawyer to ascertain whether any state law revisions have affected the enforceability of their wills.

Source: Business Scene, “Before You Write Your Will”, Michael Caplan, August 14, 2013

Categories: Probate Litigation

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