Where There's A Will, There's...A Lot Less Fighting At The Funeral

Countless stories are told of seemingly tight-knit families being torn apart over who gets what when a loved one passes away. Brothers will fight over who gets Dad's chainsaw and sisters will not speak to each other for years because they both claim to be rightful heirs of Mom's teaspoon collection. 

The best way to avoid such disagreements is to have Mom and Dad put their wishes in writing. By preparing a will ahead of time, people can make sure their assets go exactly where they want them to go even though they will not be there. Because of this, it is important that the person works with a qualified estate planning attorney to make sure the will truly divides the property the way they want it to. 

In order to make sure the will handles the estate properly there are a number of clauses that can be included. 3 of the most common and important clauses used to make the will truly represent the wishes of the decedent are;

  • Revocation - Unless a will specifically states that all prior wills and codicils are hereby revoked, then anything that was written in such a prior will takes precedence. For example, suppose Bob states in his will that Bill gets his chainsaw and then later creates a new will giving the chainsaw to Tom. If there is no revocation clause in the new will, then the prior will be in effect and the chainsaw will be given to Bill.  
  • Specific Gifts - It is often the case that a person simply states that their assets should be split among their children in their will. In the case of an item that may be potentially confrontational, the person could name a specific heir for a specific item. For example, Mary may realize that her teaspoon collection will be wanted by multiple daughters and could specifically designate that Sally gets the spoons and Suzie gets the thimbles. 
  • No Contest - This clause is commonly used when it is anticipated that one heir may be abnormally confrontational. This clause typically states that if any heir decides to contest the will and argue that they should receive more, then they are automatically removed from the will and they receive nothing. This usually helps to minimize the amount of fighting as the heirs do not want to jeopardize what they received.

While there are many forms and kits to set up a will designed to help people do it at home, these are no replacement for sound legal advice. An estate planning attorney from a firm like Donald B Linsky & Associate Pa should always be consulted to make sure everything is written so as to be legally binding.