Conditional Wills

WHAT ARE CONDITIONAL WILLS?

In general, a will is a document that distributes a deceased person’s property to their relatives and loved ones. It is a way for the deceased to carry out their wishes once they are no longer with us. Conditional wills, also called contingent wills, are used when an individual would like a will to become effective only if some event occurs. If the event does not occur, the individual would not want the will to become effective. These wills can be holographic, meaning they are completely handwritten, or they can be formal attested wills, meaning they are signed by the testator, and two witnesses.

WHY USE A CONDITIONAL WILL?

Conditional wills are made for many different reasons. For example, conditional wills can be made if an individual is leaving the country on an extended vacation and they wish to have a will, but only if they were to die on their trip. Conditional wills can also be used as an incentive for a testator’s loved ones to conform to the testator’s wishes. Regardless of your reasoning for making a conditional will, it is important to be very clear and very specific in the wording of conditional wills. Some examples of effective conditional will statements are:

Conditional Will Statement 1: “This will is only effective if my son graduates law school. . . .”

Conditional Will Statement 2: “I make the following will to be fulfilled only if I die on my vacation. . . .”

Again, the wording used in conditional wills must be very specific or you might find that your will has become effective, even if the condition you placed in the will did not occur.

OVERCOMING PRESUMPTION

Courts tend to shy away from conditional wills. The presumption of conditional will statements is that they are inducements. An inducement is only an explanation for why you are making a will. This means that a will you intended to become effective only after the condition occurs will become effective immediately upon execution. An example of an inducement is:

Inducement: “I am going on a journey, and I may never return, so I make this will in case I die while on my journey. . . . “

This is not a conditional statement. Here, you are only telling people why you think you should have a will. If the will were executed like this, it would become effective immediately.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL

Drafting a will seems simple enough, but wills and probate is a special area of the law that when the proper procedures are not taken, problems can arise years later. Hiring a professional to draft your will can help prevent problems from occurring in the future. It can prevent confusion after probate, and ensure that your true intentions are carried out.

If you or a loved is thinking about drafting a will, the attorneys at Guest and Gray Law Firm can help. We are located in old downtown Forney across from City Hall. The lawyers of Guest and Gray Law Firm have decades of combined Kaufman County experience. We proudly serve all of Kaufman County, including Forney, Terrell, Kaufman, Crandall, Mesquite, Mabank and Scurry-Rosser.