Yes, that's RJ trying his best to be enthusiastic about turning 15. He has a big year ahead of him. By the time you read this, heíll be on his way to China for a year of study abroad. He's staying with a family in Shanghai. They sound really excited about having RJ stay with them. The family has a teenage daughter, but no fears. She's coming to the U.S. for the year.
For once I included a picture of Stacy and me, and no, that's not around here. (Yes, the rain looks familiar, but the jackets should have been a clue.) Stacy and I visited Cannon Beach, OR on our way to the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) convention in Seattle.
After serving a year on NAMB's Education Committee, Stacy has been asked to chair the Subcommittee on Financial Literacy. Stacy intends to use her position to promote programs to educate Americans how to make responsible choices for their financial futures. Her position also makes her responsible for the association's outreach to high school students through DECA.
During the summer months many families are traveling on vacations. Much time is spent in preparation for such trips. Destinations, travel arrangements, accommodations, expenses, wardrobes are just a few of the things which must be considered in order to have a pleasant and memorable vacation. For many families, one of the last considerations before they board the plane or pile into the car for a cross country trip is that they have yet to take the time to prepare and/or execute a Last Will and Testament.
Every summer I invariably receive last minute requests to prepare wills for couples about to leave on vacation. In most instances, if given enough advance notice, we are able to prepare the wills and have them executed before the vacation begins. However, there are always situations where there is not enough time to meet the last minute requests of these travelers. Many times couples who have found themselves in a crunch for time have asked about preparing handwritten wills. My response has always been that while there is no substitute for a will prepared by an attorney, a handwritten will is most times better than no will at all. While there are pitfalls in a homemade will at least you will have the opportunity to make important decisions such as who is to receive your property and who will be the guardian of your children. Without your input on such decisions your property will pass according to the state laws of Descent and Distribution and a Court will appoint a guardian for your children.
For a handwritten or "holographic" will to be valid it must be wholly in the maker's handwriting. So long as the entire will is in the handwriting of the maker, it does not have to be witnessed or notarized. The handwritten instrument should clearly state that it is your intention to make a will, that you intend to dispose of all of your property, who is to receive such property and, if applicable, who is to serve as the guardian of your surviving children. The will should be signed and dated. While it is not required, it would ease the probate process if you name who is to serve, without bond, as the independent executor to administer your estate. Other than being entirely in the maker's handwriting there is no special form that is required. I have probated a holographic will that was written on the back on an envelope and one that was written of the back of a hospital admittance form. It is also obviously important to make sure that the will is left in a place where it will be easily found.
Again, there is no substitute for a typewritten will prepared by an attorney but, if necessary, do not hesitate to write out your will, enjoy your vacation and be certain to follow up with your attorney upon your return.
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Lawrence T. Gillaspia is an attorney with the Houston law firm of Jones, Gillaspia & Loyd, L.L.P. He is not board certified, and the information contained in this article is not intended as legal advice. Readers should consult attorneys for advice on their particular circumstances.