Filed Under (Wills and Estates) on 04-25-2013
There are a few things that comprehensive wills have in common. A thorough will should:
• State the name of the person writing the will.
• Be dated.
• Revoke all previous wills and codicils.
• Contain at least one major provision—such as appointing someone to care for your minor children, choosing a personal representative, or making a gift.
• Have the signature of the person whose will it is.
• Have the signatures of at least two witnesses.
• Be notarized.
Beyond these provisions, what your will contains is up to you according to your personal situation. But watch out for common pitfalls when filling in the details of your will. Your will does not have to contain lofty legal language and complex sentences. Writing in plain English is all it takes to write a will in Colorado. Use simple, declarative sentences.
There are a few common mistakes found in wills written without the help of a lawyer. Some suggestions to avoid these mistakes are:
• Always use the words “give” or “leave” when making gifts. Using “wish” may be misinterpreted. You wished it, but did you really want it?
• Always be specific when a gift should be divided among more than one beneficiary. It is confusing if the will reads “I give $10,000 to my sons Benjamin Sanker and Isaiah Sanker.” $10,000 each? Or $10,000 together? Instead try “I give $10,000 to each of my sons Benjamin Sanker and Isaiah Sanker” or I give $10,000 to my sons Benjamin Sanker and Isaiah Sanker, in equal shares.”
• Consider also what you want should the recipient of a gift die before you: Do you want the gift to go to nobody, to the recipient’s children or to someone else? Say so.
• Always use the full name of the beneficiaries in your will. Leaving your car to “John” is not helpful if you have a cousin John, a son John, and a best friend John.
For more information about writing your will, get “Planning a Will in Colorado”, Bradford Publishing’s Legal Series.