What is a Last Will and Testament


A Maryland 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 Maryland 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.  Maryland free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in Maryland

Last will form regulates the process of transferring of estate or assets to other people after the death of a person. Usually, people prefer to complete the last will form and sign it before death when they know that the court will make no satisfactory decision about the next proprietor of an estate. The person who signs the form and records his or her will on this paper is called a testator. Another side of this deal is called beneficiary — the person who receives the property after the death of the testator. If the testator is not able to sign the form by him or herself or he or she wants to assign a person who will need to check the execution of the will testator can fill it in the form. The assigned person for these tasks is called executor or representative.

The last will is the form that can be changed even after the execution process by the testator. It is crucial for the person making a will to check it because the state of property and assets can change before death. The testator should correct the form if something changed in his or her property.

As regards laws and requirements, Maryland has almost the same rules about the completion and signing process of the last will as most other states. However, it is still crucial to check the requirements before signing to be sure that the last will will be valid after the death and the property will be transferred to the right people.

Requirements for the signing process and testator itself in Maryland are presented below:

  • Last will should be signed by the testator and at least two witnesses;

  • The will should be written;

  • The testator should be 18 years old or more;

  • The testator should be in a healthy mental condition — understand the content of the last will form, agree with assigned beneficiaries, be aware of the property he or she owns.

Except for requirements for the testator, there are limitations about the property ownership of which can be regulated by the last will.

So, people cannot manage their property with the last will form if:

  • Estate or assets are shared or jointly-owned;

  • Benefits from life insurance;

  • Pension already assigned to a beneficiary.

The most important thing to know is that the testator can use the property as he or she wants until death even though there are beneficiaries prescribed in the will. The will starts to be valid only after the death of the testator and the probate process in the court.



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