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Thursday, August 5, 2010

I told my lawyer what I want in my Will but didn't sign it. Is that good enough?

Life is busy. Sometimes people get started on something, like getting Wills made, and life interferes by keeping them too busy to get to the lawyer's office to sign the Will. I see this most often with clients who are about to leave on a lengthy vacation and who left their Will-preparation to the last minute.

When I urge these customers to find the time to sign the Wills before leaving so that they are not traveling without a valid Will, the response is along the lines of "you wrote down what I want, that's something right?". Well, no, legally it isn't anything.

I believe this question arises simply because most people are not very familiar with the probate process or the requirements for a valid Will. Everyone likes shortcuts. People would love to be told that all they have to do is talk about a Will for a Will to be created.

Unless you've signed and dated a Will properly, you don't have a valid Will. If all I have is a draft document with no date, no signature or any proof that you approved its contents, then I'm just one more person who claims to know what you wanted. Someome will have to apply to the court to be appointed as administrator and your estate will be distributed according to intestacy law.

Having this document in place to protect your family, your assets and your business is essential, and it's worth making the time to sign it before you travel.

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