After reviewing your drafts of the will assignment, here are some comments about will drafting in general and the drafts in particular:
- Remember that a will is a document that we prepare now, but which won’t have any legal effect until some time in the future, perhaps many years from now. We need to take into account the likelihood that circumstances may change between now and then, and provide contingencies to ensure that our client’s testamentary intent is carried out.
- When describing legatees or beneficiaries, consider what happens if class members change. For example, if the client wants to create a trust fund for her cats, what happens if the cats she has now don’t survive her and she adopts other cats before her death? If we list her current pets by name, then some may be cared for, and others will not. Is that likely what the client wants? Probably not. What if we instead say “my cats”? Perhaps we could even add a preface to the effect of “It is my intent that any and all cats I may have at the time of my death, whether [names of current cats] or other cats later acquired, be cared for in comfort for the rest of their lives. Accordingly, . . . “
- We also need to get contingencies correct. What if she doesn’t have any cats when she dies? Is there any reason to set up a trust at all? Make sure to get the survival clause correct: In the event that my cats do not survive me, then the trustee shall distribute the estate to Edgar.
- Be sure to keep the trustee (Synovus), executor (Georges), and residuary legatee (Edgar) separate and to assign them their correct roles.
- You don’t know who the witnesses will be, so leave spaces to write in their names at the ceremony (be sure to leave enough room to write their full names longhand).
- We’ll be going over a will execution ceremony in class when you turn in your will, so do not staple (VERY IMPORTANT! I’ll explain why in class) or put your name on your will (you can hand write it before you turn it in).