Minimum Information for Basic Will
(Married with Children)
A basic will usually transfers property at death to your spouse, but if neither spouse survives, then the will transfers the property to your children. It also includes a minor’s trust and guardianship if children are minors. If there is specific property that requires special handling or distribution, that may be outside the scope of the basic will, and there may be additional charges based upon the added time for drafting to cover the specific bequest.
The following information is the minimum needed to prepare the first draft of a basic Texas will:
1. The full name of each spouse.
2. The full name(s) of each child, and whether they are minors.
3. If a child should predecease you, whether you would want that child’s portion to go to their children, if any (“per stirpes” distribution), or whether that child’s portion should be divided among any remaining brothers and sisters (“per capita” distribution).
4. If any children are minors, the names and addresses of the first designated guardian for the minor, and of the alternate guardian in the event the first cannot or will not serve.
5. The names and addresses of the first trustee for the minor’s estate, and of the alternate trustee in the event the first cannot or will not serve. We recommend that the guardian and trustee be the same, unless the guardian is great with kids and hasn’t a lick of common sense about money.
6. In the event of a minor’s trust, at what age is the beneficiary to get their portion of the trust. They must be at least 18 years of age. Most common ages for ending the trust, and distributing their portion of the trust property to the beneficiary, are 18, 21, or 25 years of age.
7. The name and address of the alternate executor or executrix, in the event that the surviving spouse is unable or unwilling to administer the estate, or if there is no surviving spouse.
8. Whether there is a remainder, in the event that no one is left to inherit under the will (a residuary estate). If so, the name and address of the charity, if the bequest is to a charitable foundation. If no charity, who would you want to inherit your residuary estate?
9. If there is income-producing property that is to be treated separately, or receive special consideration, in the distribution of the estate.
To help with the will process, download the Basic Will Checklist.