Executing a will is a fairly simple, straightforward process. However, it’s important to discuss it in advance with your estate planning attorney so you can easily answer each question you’ll be asked. Be sure to find out before the day you’ll gather with others to execute your will if there’s any specific paperwork you’ll need to bring with you to the meeting. In a nutshell, your attorney will be asking about your capacity to create a will and whether or not you realize that this new document will take the place of all previous wills (which should be destroyed). You’ll also be asked if the contents accurately list all of the testamentary gifts you wish to leave others when you pass away. Be sure to read over a copy of the will you’ll be signing — in advance — so you can catch all possible errors that might otherwise create questions about your true intentions.

Common Topics Covered and Activities Handled While a Will is Being Executed
You’ll be introduced to everyone present. Your lawyer will introduce everyone in the room to each other, including the law firm employees who often serve as witnesses to your signature and the proceeding;
Testamentary intent will be established. Your attorney’s questions will indicate to all those present to indicate that you fully understand that the document you’ll be signing will transfer all of your property to others once you pass away;
Testamentary capacity will be established. Your lawyer will establish for everyone present that you are of sound mind and that you’ve reached the legal age required to execute a will;
If you’re an older or seriously ill testator (creator of the will), your attorney may ask to speak briefly with you alone to make sure undue influence isn’t involved. Once this has taken place, the attorney will simply tell everyone present that he just met alone with you to make sure the terms of the will reflect your personal preferences and not those of anyone else. The lawyer will then tell everyone (if no changes are necessary) that you said the will’s contents fully express your requested testamentary devises and bequests;
You’ll be asked if any additions or deletions need to be made to the will at this time. This is an important question and answer for everyone to hear so that they’ll know that the document is fully accurate and clearly represents your personal preferences;
You’ll be asked if you approve of all the witnesses present who are planning to sign your will. If for some reason you’re not comfortable having one or more of the witnesses there sign your will, ask for a brief recess to speak with your attorney. However, it’s best to discuss the witnesses’ identities ahead of time so this problem won’t occur;
You’ll need to carefully initial each page of the will and sign the last page. Blue ink is normally used to indicate to everyone present (and all those who may view the document in the future) that this is your original will and not merely a copy;
Each witness will be asked to sign the will and attest that he or she saw you sign it before each witness did;
You’ll have the option of asking your attorney to keep the original version of the will. If your lawyer is willing to keep the original for you, ask for copies of it and then take them home and lock them up in a safe place where others cannot access them;

Although these may not be the only topics addressed and activities handled on the day you execute your will, they should put your mind at ease regarding the overall simplicity of this process.

If you’d like to learn more about this or any area of estate planning, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith at (678) 788-7144 or newcase@shanesmithlaw.com to arrange your “estate planning for life” consultation.