Vienna, VA asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Maryland

Q: On my will, I have my 2 daughters listed as beneficiaries. I want to split everything evenly. On the line for property..

On the line for what property I want to leave them, is there a certain wording for "half of assets" or 50%? Or should I leave that line blank? I don't necessarily need to leave each of them each anything in particular. It would basically be the house and everything in it. They will decide what they want to keep, sell, etc, and split any money. Do I need to write that I want them to decide for themselves on an amendment separately?

Thank you in advance.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste
Marie-Yves Nadine Jean-Baptiste
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Towson, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: I give to my daughters, DAUGHTER 1 and DAUGHTER 2, in as equal shares as possible, my principal place of residence and any real property that I may...

I give the balance of my personal and household effects, automobiles and other tangible personal property to my daughters, DAUGHTER 1 and DAUGHTER 2, in as equal shares as possible. To the extent possible, my Personal Representative shall make such division and distribution to said children in accordance with their wishes...

I would advise having a separate section for your tangible personal property (contents of your home, your car, anything else that you can physically move).

Also, I'd have an attorney look this over--it is not advisable to attempt to write your own will. The clauses above are incomplete but provides you a general sense of what you need. Additional language is necessary to protect you/your estate/assets/beneficiaries. I'm sure my colleagues have additional input that they can provide that will certainly help. Good luck to you!

Cedulie Renee Laumann agrees with this answer

Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The likelihood that your drafting of this Will is going to be enforceable is, frankly, remote. Rather, unless your daughters avoid expressing their natural emotions upon your demise by squabbling over the assets, your poorly drafted and -- even more likely -- poorly executed Will is going to provide a terrifying opportunity to litigate over exactly what you meant and whether it ought to be performed. As long as your two daughters are your only children and you have no spouse, you are probably better off with a "poor man's will," which means naming beneficiaries on all accounts that allow a designation of beneficiaries and then dying intestate. The intestate succession laws are more likely to result in a fair and equal division of your property among your heirs, while a poorly drafted or executed Will is likely to help some talented lawyers put their kids through college.

If you simply must draft a will pro se, do not fill in blanks. Re-key the document into a computer so that nothing but the signatures and dates are in handwriting. Study proper execution focusing particularly on presence of witnesses, disqualified witnesses, and form of the jurat. Adding a notarial seal on your and the witness signatures is a big plus even if it isn't required. And, decide how you want your daughters' children to inherit if one of your daughters predeceases you. It's a tragedy, but it happens. The choices are per capita and per stirpes. Then, the simplest language is: "to my beloved daughters, Jane and Julie, and their heirs, per stirpes, share and share alike in fee simple absolute." The amount you add after that will approximately correlate with how much money one of my learned colleagues is going to earn probating the Will, and that will be significantly more than the cost of a competent preparation.

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