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What is a Last Will and Testament

 

A Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their children’s inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representative—or co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)—to manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedent’s debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedent’s property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.



If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usually—in most states—means it must be properly witnessed, as well—not just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedent’s debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedent's heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedent’s property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they don’t, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Easy and fast last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills

Last Will is a formal document that defines the rules for the transfer of property to heirs in the event of the testator's death. This document regulates the relationship of the heirs since it divides the property by shares. In any case, this is a fundamental document necessary to determine the procedure for obtaining property.

The testator appoints a personal representative to manage real estate, assets, and money. As a rule, a personal representative is an individual who collects all information about debts, loans, and property for a Will. Secondly, he is responsible for the correct (according to the document) distribution of property without fraud and lies.

Essential Requirement

In each state of the United States, the law sets its rules and requirements for legal documents, for instance, Last Wills.

As a rule, the main requirements address the following issues:

  • Number of witnesses (their personal information)

  • Method of signing the document

  • Age of the person leaving the Will

  • Beneficiaries (ownership division)

There are enough rules in this area. For this reason, you need to read them carefully before drawing up the document. For instance, minors cannot make a Will. Secondly, when signing the document, witnesses must be present. No one should threaten you, as such actions entail liability under the law. Thirdly, do not forget that you can't exclude your spouse from the Will. According to the law in the states, the spouse receives some part of the property in any case.

In some states, there is a "remark," which determines the dissatisfaction of the beneficiaries. If the heirs want to challenge the Last Will, they will automatically lose their property under the document. This provision appears in some laws, so check it with a lawyer in advance. It is worth noting that any mistakes usually lead to misunderstandings on the part of the beneficiaries. The best and quickest way to make the Last Will is to have the help of a lawyer. Moreover, the testator appoints an executor who controls this process and notifies the heirs of the document.

Another important clarification is the appointment of a guardian for minors. If your child has not yet reached the required age, you may specify a guardian in the Last Will. This person will continue to take care of your children until they come of age.

Absence of Last Will

There are cases when the testator did not have time to make the Last Will. In such circumstances, the court independently appoints a personal representative to pay the existing debts and loans. After that, the heirs receive the remaining assets under the law of the state of residence.

In general, the Last Will is a necessary measure to regulate property rights. Do not forget to follow the requirements to avoid risks. It is better to double-check the document with a lawyer several times.

 

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