When Whitney Houston died last month at the age of 49, she left behind a last Will and testament that dictated that her entire estate would be inherited by her only daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, age 19. While the details of Ms. Houston’s Will are quite common and do not appear to contain any strange or potentially problem causing terms, we can look at her Will as an example of what you can do when creating your own. Here are three issues you may wish to consider when creating your own last Will and testament.
Issue 1: Your Gifts. Ms. Houston chose to give her entire estate to her daughter. Though she had remaining family members and a former husband, she is entirely within her rights to choose anyone she wishes to receive her estate. She was under no obligation to leave anything to her other family members, former spouse, or anyone else.
Issue 2: Executors and Trustees. Though she left her entire estate to her daughter, Ms. Houston determined that her daughter would not receive the entire estate until she becomes older. Until that time, Ms. Houston’s will directs that the estate property will be managed by a trust. The person running that trust, known as a trustee, was also named in the Will.
Issue 3: Changes. Ms. Houston created her first Will in 1993, but created amendments in 2000 and 2004. These amendments are called codicils, and are documents that change the terms of the original Will. When you create a codicil, you must ensure the amendment complies with the laws of your state, though you can change any terms you like.