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What Is The Process Of Creating A Will?

What Parties Are Involved In Creating A Will?

The most important and sometimes the only person involved in creating a will, is the testator herself. Secondly, in most situations, it is very important that the testator work with an attorney who is very knowledgeable in estate planning issues in order to create a will. Most testators do not know the importance of issues like forced spousal share or an unintentionally omitted child or the appropriate persons to serve as witnesses for the will. Therefore, the guidance of an attorney is almost always terrifically important. You generally want witnesses to the testator’s execution or signing of the will. The witnesses should be people who are not related to the testator, who do not receive under the testator’s will, and who are not related to any of the beneficiaries of the will. Ideally, there would also be a notary public who can give an oath that the testator and the witnesses have personally signed a will at the appropriate places and in the appropriate manner. It is not absolutely necessary that there be a notary public, but in my opinion it is better to have one whenever possible.

What Happens After Someone Who Has A Will Passes Away?

This is such an important question and one which is not well understood by the general public. With great regularity, someone will call my office upset because he has been told that his family member who left a very detailed will, still had her estate submitted to probate. The caller is often someone incensed and says something like “I have a will here. It says I get the house and it is perfectly clear. I can’t really meet probate, can I?” I have to then share with the caller that yes, a probate will be necessary. A will might best be likened to a set of assembly instructions that comes with your child’s bicycle. Those instructions have no power to assemble the bicycle; they are just a list of information that helps guide the preparation of the product. The will does not have any power to change the ownership of any item. It is instructions to the probate court. Therefore, do not fall into the trap of believing that a will can transfer the ownership of property on its own. It cannot. It is just a list of instructions to the court.

How Does The Process Of Probate Work?

The question about the process of probate is so long that I have written a small book about it. If you would like to contact my office and purchase a copy of the Probate Handbook, we would love to help you. In brief, probate takes about six months if it is uncontested, and a little longer if real estate must be sold during the pendency of the probate. It can also take much longer, probably years longer if the case is contested or otherwise has facts that make it difficult to resolve. Probate can also cost the estate a significant amount of money that would otherwise go to the beneficiaries.

Where Should A Will Be Kept Or Stored?

There is no perfect place to keep your estate planning documents. It is a balancing act. On one hand, the rent for a safety deposit box must be paid annually until the box is no longer needed. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for the heirs and beneficiaries to have any idea which bank holds the safety deposit box that you have chosen for your will. I have had cases where the family spent a few months going from bank to bank looking for their parents’ will. This was expensive as well as time consuming. The value of a safety deposit box is that people with ulterior motives will not steal your estate planning documents. Someone will have to show proof that they have a right to access the safety deposit box and there will be a written record in the bank as to who actually did access the safety deposit box. This is an important advantage.

Some of my clients have purchased a small safe and have attached that safe to the floor of their storm shelter. To me, this seems to be a pretty good plan. It is highly unlikely that the safe will be affected by a tornado or fire while in the storm shelter. There is also an advantage found in not having to pay the bank annual rent for an indefinite number of years into the future. However, this is not a perfect outcome or location because people forget how to access their safes or the locking mechanism of the safe can corrode or otherwise fail.

How Long Does It Take To Create A Will And Is It Expensive?

The creation of a will can take as little as a few minutes or as much as several weeks. It depends on the complexity of the estate and the complexity of the instructions that the testator is leaving behind. The cost of a will also varies drastically. This question can be a little bit similar to asking how much does a car cost? As you well know, the cost of cars varies drastically depending upon the features and who built the car. A more complicated will with many features will cost more and the take more time to create. The simpler the will, the less it is likely to cost and the more quickly it will be completed.

What Makes You Well Suited To Handle This Type Of Work?

My story goes back to my teenage years where I observed a situation when the assets that my loved one owned were not wisely used throughout her life. Unfortunately, there was no good comprehensive estate plan and therefore, the people who attempted to help did the best they could with the very limited knowledge that they had. Unfortunately, this led to near disastrous results. Children stepped up and gave of their time and money when they could not afford it. I was disappointed in the way the process went and I knew that there must surely be a better way. Throughout law school, I studied, read, talked to professors and talked to attorneys and learned as much as I could about better estate planning methods. After law school I went out on my own and began my own small personal crusade to help people have better estate plans. My goal is to assure that my clients maintain their dignity, their privacy, and their independence as long as possible. Over the years, and decades now, I have become better and better at creating estate plans. I will continue learning throughout my career, but these last 20 years of practice have left me with a sound knowledge of estate planning and the opportunity to observe many of those plans come to fruition. I would love to have the opportunity to support you in maintaining your privacy, your independence and your dignity as long as possible.

For more information on Parties Involved In Wills, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.

Terrell Monks, Esq. - Estate Planning Attorney, Edmond City

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(405) 754-4166

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