The estate of child actor Gary Coleman, who died last month, is currently in turmoil as lawyers try to figure out which version of his will is valid. There could be as many as 3 versions; one drafted in 1999 leaving his estate to his former manager, a second version his costar Todd Bridges claims was penned in 2007 (although it hasn’t surfaced yet) and a third handwritten document from 2009 in which everything is left to his ex-wife. How this will play out is anyone’s guess at this time.
This situation brings to light the importance of taking care of your will. First of all, make sure it is executed correctly (witnessed and notarized) and that the language adheres to the laws of your state. For this reason I always recommend having a will drawn up by an attorney and not writing it yourself or using a form found on the internet. Secondly, store the original at your attorney’s office for safekeeping, but keep a copy on hand. Don’t store your will (or the copy) in a safe deposit box unless someone in addition to you has access to the box. Otherwise no one will be able to get at the will when it is needed.
It is not uncommon to rewrite one’s will several times during a lifetime. Just be sure to destroy all superseded copies.
Following these steps will help your heirs to settle your estate in a timely manner.
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