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The Benefits of a Contract to Make a Will

June 27, 2024

A Will is an essential legal document that sets forth how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. However, in some instances, your beneficiaries may want extra assurances that they will receive what was promised to them because they are concerned that your Will or other circumstances may change. A contract to make a Will can offer that protection. 

What Is a Contract to Make a Will? 

A contract to make a Will is a legal agreement between two parties ensuring that certain assets are bequeathed as agreed upon. Usually, the agreement is between spouses or partners and the assets are going to children or other named beneficiaries. The contract may also be a contract to not make a will, or a contract agreeing not to revoke a will.

Once executed, the contract becomes a binding legal obligation. While the contract doesn’t invalidate or supersede the Will, the parties can enforce the contract through legal means, the same as any other contract. 

Why Would You Want a Contract to Make a Will?

One of the primary benefits of a contract to make a will is that it provides clarity and certainty regarding the distribution of assets. By mutually agreeing on the terms of an inheritance, parties can avoid potential disputes or confusion among heirs after their passing and preserve familial relationships.

A contract to make a Will is frequently used in the context of divorce, separation, remarriage, and blended families where there are children from previous relationships. For example, provisions in a separation agreement or divorce settlement may protect the inheritance of the parties’ children in the event of a parent’s subsequent remarriage. Contracts may also be used to ensure that all assets don’t go to children and a surviving spouse in a remarriage or that a subsequent partner is adequately provided for after the decedent’s death.

What Are the Key Components of a Valid Contract?

The validity of a contract to make a will is governed by state law, and as it is a contract, it must satisfy all the required elements of a contract. In general, it is good idea that the following be addressed and incorporated: 

  1. Identify the parties involved, including their full names and relationship to each other.
  2. Specify the assets covered by the agreement (e.g., real estate, investments, personal property, etc.) and the intended beneficiaries of each one. 
  3. Outline specifically the terms of the agreement.
  4. Include provisions explaining the circumstances under which the agreement can be revoked or amended by the parties involved.

How Does the Contract to Make a Will Affect Your Estate Planning?

As discussed, a contract to make a Will is a legally binding contract and intended beneficiaries can sue to recover from your estate, affecting the assets available for all beneficiaries. As a result, when creating or updating an estate plan you should discuss any such agreements with your attorney and provide the agreement for review. 

Before entering into a contract to make a Will, you should also consider possibly carving out future assets, or setting other parameters to allow for some flexibility to plan for assets acquired after the contract is signed.

If you’re considering a contract to make a Will or other provisions for protecting beneficiaries, consult with a qualified legal professional to ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected and legally enforceable. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients create a comprehensive estate plan that meets their needs and goals. Contact us today.

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