What is a Last Will and Testament


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

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in Vermont

People who want to establish the heirs of their property use a last will as an official form for these purposes. Even if you have not prepared a testament, your inheritance is still distributed among relatives; therefore, this document is not mandatory. However, in its absence, the court is guided by Vermont law and not by the will of the deceased. If you want to establish your terms for the distribution of the inheritance, you will have to write a testament.

Last Will Purposes in Vermont

A last will is aimed at dividing the property into shares and appointing the future owners of these shares. A testator can also give all the property to one person as an inheritance. Anyway, the document is required in case a person does not agree with the general Vermont law, which provides heirs by the degree of kinship (first the spouse, parents, and children of the deceased, then other their relatives).

A testament allows a person to set their rules for inheriting their property, including providing care and charity. Here are the main points that the document usually contains:

  • Inheritance of Property

The main purpose of the last will is the distribution of movable and immovable property. A testator indicates to whom they give an apartment, house, or homestead land and also identifies the future owners of money, jewelry, and securities. They also clarify the inheritance of smaller pieces of property.

  • Providing Care

In Vermont, a testator can also appoint a guardian for their minor children, if necessary, and take appropriate care of elderly relatives. Through a will, you can create a trust for pets, providing a pet with good living conditions. On this point, a testament highly differs from the general Vermont law on inheritance since the common rules govern mainly the distribution of a real estate.

  • Charity

The last will in Vermont provides a testator with the opportunity to transfer a portion of the funds to charities and other trusts. You can also make a charitable gift to someone outside of your family circle. If you are planning such gifts, you should consider making a will since the basic Vermont law on inheritance does not provide for charity.

As you can see, a person can significantly adjust the Vermont inheritance law to meet their preferences. If a testator wants to change a document, they can submit amendments to the will. If they need to completely cancel a will, it should be destroyed (torn or burned).

Testament Exceptions in Vermont

There are some exceptions to a testament when the judge is guided by the law and not by the will of the deceased:

  • The share of the child who was born after the creation of a will

  • Claims of a living spouse on the property of a deceased

  • The property of the spouses in common ownership with the title of survivorship.

In these cases, the final decision is made by the judge, based on the financial situation of the relatives and their relationship with the deceased during their lifetime. Therefore, a will should be understood as facilitation to the court in appointing heirs, but not as a closing rationale in an inheritance case. In some situations, the last argument is Vermont law.



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