John Newman provides this document as an example of a simple will. Not much of the drafting is his own. The will is an amalgamation of a variety of other wills.
I, _______________, of _________________, make, publish, and declare this my Will and revoke all prior Wills and Codicils.
FIRST: My Executor shall pay all expenses of my last illness and funeral, all costs of administration including ancillary, all costs of safeguarding, insuring, packing, sorting and delivering of legacies, and all estate and inheritance taxes imposed by any domestic or foreign taxing authority with respect to all property taxable by reason of my death (whether or not such property passes under this Will), without apportionment and with no right of reimbursement from any recipient of such property, except that my executor shall, to the maximum extent permitted by law, seek reimbursement for, recovery of, or contribution toward the payment of the amount, if any, by which the estate and inheritance taxes shall be increased as a result of the inclusion of property in which I may have a qualifying income interest for life or over which I may have a power of appointment. Interest and penalties concerning any tax shall be paid and charged in the same manner as the tax.
The balance of my estate which remains after the foregoing payments have been made or provided for shall be disposed of as hereinafter provided.
SECOND: I am married to ________________, who shall be referred to as my spouse. I have ____ children named __________________________________.
THIRD: If my spouse shall predecease me, or if my spouse dies after my death without having appointed a guardian for the person or estate of any minor child or children of ours, then I hereby appoint _________________ of __________________, as guardian of the person and the property of such minor child or children and to the extent allowed by law direct that such guardian shall serve without bond. If for any reason _______________ is unable or unwilling to serve as guardian, then I appoint __________________ of __________________, as guardian of the person and the property of such minor child or children. It is my sincerest hope that my guardian will love and care for my children as if they were the guardian’s own.
FOURTH: I make the following disposition of the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate:
(a) I give and bequeath to my spouse, provided only that my spouse survives me, all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate including real property, personal property, and intangible property where ever located.
(b) In the event that my spouse does not survive me, I direct that the property otherwise given and bequeathed to my spouse in this paragraph FOURTH shall be divided into as many equal shares as there are children of mine living at my death and one share for the then living descendants, collectively, of each deceased child of mine. Each share created for a living child, and each share created for the descendants of a deceased child, shall be distributed outright per stirpes to the child or descendants of a deceased child, subject to postponement of possession as set forth below.
(c) Each share of my estate which is distributable to a beneficiary who has not reached the age of eighteen (18) years shall immediately vest in the beneficiary, but the Executor shall (a) establish with the share a custodianship for the beneficiary under a Uniform Transfers or Gifts to Minors Act (if residing in a state where the age of majority is eighteen (18) years of age), or (b) retain possession of the share as a separate trust, paying to or for the benefit of the beneficiary so much or all of the income and principal of the share as the Executor/Trustee deems necessary or advisable from time to time for his or her health, maintenance in reasonable comfort, education (including postgraduate) and best interests, adding to principal any income not so paid, and distributing the share to the beneficiary when he or she reaches the age of eighteen (18) years or to the estate of the beneficiary if he or she dies before receiving the share in full.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this Will, I have intentionally omitted to provide herein for any of my heirs living at the date of my death. If any beneficiary under this Will in any manner, directly or indirectly, contests or attacks this Will or any of its provisions, any share or interest in my estate given to that contesting beneficiary under this Will is revoked and shall be disposed of in the same manner provided herein as if that contesting beneficiary had predeceased me without issue.
FIFTH: I appoint _____________ of ________________, as Executor of this Will. If for any reason __________________ is unable or unable or unwilling to serve as Executor, I appoint _______________ of ______________, as Executor.
I give my Executor power to retain any property that I own at my death, and to invest in bonds, stocks, notes, bank deposits, shares of registered investment companies, or other property, and to retain or make any investment without liability, regardless of type, quality, marketability or any rule requiring diversification; to lease, borrow with or without security from any lender, sell or exchange all or any part of my estate, real or personal, for such prices and upon such terms as my Executor deems proper; to compromise, contest, prosecute or abandon claims in favor of or against my estate; to distribute income and principal in cash or in kind, or partly in each, and to allocate or distribute undivided interests or different assets or disproportionate interests in assets (and no adjustment shall be made to compensate for a disproportionate allocation of unrealized gain for federal income tax purposes), and to value my estate in order to make allocation or distribution, and no action taken by my Executor pursuant to this power shall be subject to question by any beneficiary; to determine in cases not covered by statute the allocation of receipts and disbursements between income and principal; to deal with the fiduciary of any trust or estate in which any beneficiary under the aforementioned trust agreement has an interest, though an Executor hereunder is such fiduciary; to deal with a corporate Executor hereunder individually or a parent or affiliate company; and to execute and deliver necessary instruments and give full receipts and discharges. My Executor shall have power to inspect and monitor businesses and real property (whether held directly or through a partnership, corporation, trust or other entity) for environmental conditions or possible violations of environmental laws; to remediate environmentally damaged property or to take steps to prevent environmental damage in the future, even if no action by public or private parties is currently pending or threatened; to abandon or refuse to accept property which may have environmental damage; my Executor may expend estate funds to do the foregoing, and no action or failure to act by my Executor pursuant to this power shall be subject to question by any beneficiary. The foregoing powers shall be exercised by my Executor without authorization by any court and, as to property subject to administration outside the state of my domicile, only with the approval of my domiciliary Executor. No bond or security shall be required of any Executor wherever acting. If permitted by law and if not inconsistent with the best interests of the beneficiaries as determined by my Executor, the administration of my estate shall be independent of the supervision of any court.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this ____ day of _____________, 20___.
<Testator’s name>, Testator/Testatrix
We attest that the above instrument was on the date thereof signed and declared by_________________, as <his/her> Will in our presence and that we, at <his/her> request and in <his/her> presence and in the presence of each other, have signed our names as witnesses thereof, believing to be of sound mind and memory at the time of signing.
STATE OF VERMONT )
COUNTY OF )
Signed and sworn to before me by __________________ the <Testator/Testatrix>, and by each of the above Witnesses this ____ day of ________________________, 20___.
My Commission Expires: