If you die without a will state law sets out specific guidelines for how your property should be divided among surviving family members. However, if you have specific preferences about how your estate is to be divided and your affairs should be handled after you pass away, drafting a legally enforceable will as part of your estate plan is your best means of ensuring your wishes are followed.

Whether you want to adjust an existing estate plan or are thinking about compiling one for the first time, retaining an Elsmere wills lawyer could be a key first step toward ensuring this process has the best possible outcome for you. Guidance from a knowledgeable will attorney at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya can be crucial not just to comply with the rules for wills set out by state law, but also for taking full advantage of them to protect your assets and your family’s best interests.

Requirements for Drafting a Valid Will

In order to be legally enforceable, a will drafted in Delaware must be in writing and signed by the testator Valid wills can only be drafted by people over the age of 18 who are of sound mind and memory, and the will must be witnessed and signed by at least two credible witnesses. Notably, Delaware departs from many other states in allowing prospective beneficiaries of wills to also serve as witnesses. It is preferable to have these signatures notarized so that the will is “self-proving.”

Once a testator passes away, any person who comes into possession of what may be a will drafted by that testator is legally required to deliver it to the state Register of Wills Office no later than 10 days after being made aware of the testator’s death. If not notiarized, ttypically, the signing witnesses mentioned above must also appear at the Register of Wills Office to certify the validity of the will before it can be entered for probate. An Elsmere wills attorney at our firm can explain this in more detail and assist with executing.

What Can Be Addressed in a Will?

A valid will can establish how all personal and real property and assets of the decedent should be distributed to specified beneficiaries with the exception of jointly held property, which will always go to the surviving joint tenant unless both tenants pass away simultaneously. Additionally, proceeds from life insurance are generally not considered part of a decedent’s estate and are typically not divisible based on instructions in a will except for in rare exceptions that a wills lawyer in Elsmere can discuss in more detail.

Although it is possible for a testator to include instructions for end-of-life care and for preferred medical treatment in their estate plan, this is typically not done through the same will addressing division of personal property. Instead, this would typically be addressed through a related but separate document called a living will or through an advance healthcare directive.

Consider Working With an Elsmere Wills Attorney

Drafting a will can be an intimidating experience, especially when you are not familiar with what the state law expects of you during the drafting process. Guidance from legal counsel could be crucial not just to complying with applicable laws, but also to ensuring your will covers everything you want and does not leave room for misinterpretation.

The support you need to ensure your will is legally valid is available from a practiced Elsmere wills lawyer at Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz, and Bhaya. Call an attorney at our firm today to set up a meeting.