The Process of Creating a Last Will & Testament
Clients often inquire about the process associated with creating a last will and testament. For most individuals and families, the process is rather simple and starts with a call to a local attorney. Between the phone call and the initial consultation, the attorney will likely provide a questionnaire to complete and bring to the initial consultation.
At the initial consultation, the estate planning lawyer will review the answers to the questionnaire and start delving deeper. Perhaps the biggest issue discussed at the initial consultation is alternative distribution scenarios. Most people plan on distributing their assets to his/her spouse and then children. However, the attorney will continue to peel back that onion at least one more level. The same process is performed on executors and possibly guardians.
The attorney will also inquire further into your employment and financial position. Occasions do arise in which the employment and financial position of a client require estate planning techniques to be modified. For example, clients in a high-liability field of employment increase the need for irrevocable trusts. Similarly, clients that are in a precarious long-term financial situation may require a similar analysis.
After the initial consultation, clients may need more time to consider some of the distribution layers or obtain additional contact information of the persons listed in the documents. Once everything is determined, though, the attorney will start drafting the estate planning documents, which usually include a last will and testament, durable power of attorney (financial), medical power of attorney, physician’s directive, and possibly some type of trust. The drafting process usually takes a few days.
After completing the first draft of the documents, the attorney will request the client to review them. After approving the spellings, addresses, order of distributions, and the like, the client will make an appointment for the will signing. Typically, the length of time between the initial consultation and the will signing ceremony is between seven to ten days. However, it can be longer if clients do not have all the information.
At the will signing ceremony, the attorney will supply a notary and at least two witnesses. The notaries and witnesses will sign the respective documents, as needed, and the client will receive further letters of explanation regarding your estate planning documents.
After the will signing process, the attorney will make copies of each of the estate planning documents and provide the client with the originals along with instructions on where to keep them and to whom to provide a copy.
Thereafter, clients will want to reevaluate the estate planning documents every five to seven years or whenever a major family event happens. Attorneys understand the stress that may accompany estate planning and try to make the process as seamless as possible.
Robert Newton is an attorney based in Frisco, Texas, that practices business law, corporate law, real estate law, and estate planning. This post is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.