What is a Last Will and Testament


A Massachusetts 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 childrenís 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 representativeóor co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)óto manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedentís debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedentís 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 usuallyóin most statesómeans it must be properly witnessed, as wellónot just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedentís debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedentís 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 decedentís 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 Massachusetts 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 donít, 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.  Massachusetts free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Will in Massachusetts

The last will form a document that almost all owners of property fill in even though it is not required paper in Massachusetts. The reason for the frequent usage of this form is that a last will is a good tool for the protection of the estate or assets from undesired distribution after death. The person who wants to transfer the property to particular people should ascribe them in this form, but it is important to follow all the rules set by the state to make the will valid.

All states provide almost the same requirements to testators, people who manage their property with the last will, and to the process of signing the document. However, there are tiny differences in some laws connected to the last will and probate process in each state that can create obstacles for beneficiaries and executors to use the last will. Beneficiaries are the people who will receive the property after the death of the testator, while the executor is a person who manages the process of transferring the property after the decease of the testator.

In regards to the requirements to the testator of the last will, he or she should be:

  • over 18 years old;

  • absence of any mental health problems that can interfere with the process of decision-making.

There are no strict rules about the choice of beneficiaries for the last will. It means that anyone can become a beneficiary for property transferred with the last will in Massachusetts.

All participants of the signing process should follow the rules set by the state law:

  • will must be written;

  • testator or official representative of the testator should sign the form;

  • the signing process should take place in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries;

  • at least two witnesses should sign the last will form.

Before signing the last will form, make sure that the property you included in it is suitable for transferring in this way.

The main types of property that cannot be regulated by the last will are:

  • benefits from pension or insurance compensation;

  • joint-owned property;

  • assets from the living trust;

  • tenants owned property.

Finally, the last will in Massachusetts can be changed by the testator at any moment by following the same signing procedure. The testator can correct any statements written in the last will during the life, but these changes should represent his or her own decisions. The crucial thing you need to remember is that creating a last will or doing corrections in it is that it should correspond to all requirements of the state to be valid.



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