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What is a Last Will and Testament

 

A West Virginia 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 West Virginia 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.  West Virginia free information on last will and testament forms.

West Virginia Last Will and Testament

The Last Wills and Testaments in West Virginia are used by those testators who want to be assured their wishes in terms of the estate's assets will be satisfied after their demise. Creating such a document will help you to determine inheritors and avoid possible misunderstandings.

Please, note that the Living Will is a whole different paper. The purpose of the Living Will is to provide hospitals and physicians with specific preferences upon medical treatment for that time when patients are no longer able to make decisions.

When to create the Last Will and Testament?

Last Will and Testaments are not legally required, but it won’t be superfluous to make them. By creating the Last Will, you can outline who you want your properties to pass to and be secured. It will be just as you wanted during your life.

West Virginia residents also can determine a legal custodian for their children under the age of 18, make a trust for any individual of their choice or a charitable donation, and even create a “pet trust” for the animal to have a trusted owner after the testator's death.

Do not include in the Last Will properties such as:

  • Property with the right of inheritance, in joint or full lease

  • Surviving spouse's electoral share

  • Manor exemption for surviving spouse

  • Release of the surviving spouse's property

Last Will and Testament are legal forms, so before the executor (a court representative who will be monitoring the whole process) can finish all the required proceedings, those papers need to be proven by the local probate court first.

However, West Virginia has an alternative way for smaller properties, which is applied when:

  • The trusted representative is the only beneficiary, or the inheritors affirm that there is no likelihood of disputes arising and the holdings will cover debts and taxes, and the testator agrees;

  • The property is valued at $100,000 and does not include real estate.

What if there’s no Last Will or Testament?

There is a title for people who passed away without any Will — “intestate.” Their living spouse has the right to get all the estate’s assets, even if the decedent and surviving spouse have descendants. But, if the descendant is from another deceased person’s relationship, then the living spouse inherits 3/5 of the funds, and the descendant gets the rest. And if he or she is from a spouse's previous relationship, then both the living spouse and descendant will share the equal parts of inheritance.

In case there are no descendants or a living spouse, other family members will be able to have the decedent’s estate pieces, and inheritance is spread according to the level of their relationship.

Last Will and Testament in West Virginia

To draw up a Last Will and Testament in West Virginia correctly, the testator should:

  • Be at the age of 18 or older, sane, and clear-headed

  • Sign the document themself or by an authorized person in the testator’s presence, according to direct instructions

  • At least two other individuals (other than beneficiaries) need to sign the Will at the same time, also in the testator’s presence

  • A Last Will should be fully written by hand

  • The testator can choose the beneficiary themself

The Last Will and Testament in West Virginia can be changed at any moment. It can be done by the relevant addendum, which should be implemented the same as the Will.

Last Will and Testament cancellation

The Last Will can be revoked by creating another Last Will, writing an official cancellation document, and its physical destruction (in whole or fragmentary).

To make a complete Last Will or Testament, please, use our official West Virginia Last Will website template.


 

 

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