Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Basics of drafting a will

While no one enjoys thinking about their demise, it can extremely helpful to consider how you want your estate to be handled in the event of your passing. The most common way of communicating your wishes to the survivors of your estate is through a will. There are, however, some considerations that should be taken into account when drafting and eventually finalizing a will.

The size of the will can depend on the breadth of your estate and the types of actions you want completed upon your death. At their most basic, wills convey the details of the estate, the people who will receive certain elements of it, and any special deeds that are to be done such as care of children, charity donations, and posthumous trusts.

While the exact rules of drafting a will vary from state to state, there are some general points that usually are adhered to. An adult must be of "sound mind," meaning you must have the capacity to understand the full scope of the document. Wills must also be written, typically in a formal document format. Unless you are unable to do so, you must sign your will. If there are considerations preventing you from signing your own will, you can designate another person to sign it for you, although there must be witnesses present to ensure no abuse of power is taking place. Once a will is signed, it acts as your definitive word until a new will supersedes it (some edits can be made without the need to completely replace a current will).

Because the process of drafting and finalizing a will can be complex, seeking experienced representation can be of great help. It's never easy to think about death, but proper preparation can bring some peace to the situation.

Source:, "Wills: An Overview," Accessed August 4, 2017

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