What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is a document that is written while you are mentally capable, that expresses your wishes for after you have died. It deals with the distribution of your possessions (your “estate”) and makes key appointments like your Executor (the person who will carry out the instructions) and Guardians for children (if applicable).
A Last Will and Testament, or simply, a “Will”, has to be written. It can be handwritten or typed, and must be signed and dated at the end. If it is typed, the signing must be witnessed by two competent adults who have nothing to gain from the contents of the Will.
Some jurisdictions accept an entirely handwritten document as a Will even if it is not witnessed. This is a “holographic” Will. The law allows this in order to allow people in desperate situations to still prepare their Will even if they cannot find witnesses. It is generally not recommended as a Will writing approach for people under normal circumstances.
This question leads to a number of further questions:
- What exactly is a Will?
- Why are some Wills free?
- Why do some Wills cost $1,000?
- How much should a Will cost?
- What about online Will services?
- Why do Wills at USLegalWills.com cost $39.95?
We will address all of these questions and more in this article.
What exactly is a Last Will and Testament?
A Will is a piece of paper that firstly states that the document is indeed your Will. It usually makes key appointments, for example an Executor who has the responsibility to carry out the instructions in your Will. It then goes on to describe the distribution of your “estate” (everything that you own).
Your estate is made up of bank accounts, real estate, investments, possessions and even family heirlooms. These are your “assets”. There are strategies for moving assets out of your estate, and there may be some good reasons for doing this. I’ll explain that later in the article.
There are around four million births every year in the US. That’s a lot of babies to clothe, feed and diaper change. Becoming a parent is one of the greatest joys in life but it also brings with it a lot of responsibilities.When your child is born you might not think immediately about estate planning, but if you’re smart, you will know that you need to consider this question now! Getting this planning done right away is some of the best advice for new parents that we can give.
Every parent wants to make sure their children are provided for in the event something happens to them while the children are still minors. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives often want to leave some of their assets to young children, too. But good intentions and poor planning often have unintended results. The following points will help guide you through some important steps to ensure careful planning for your estate and children.
After an individual’s death, his or her assets will be gathered, business affairs settled, debts paid, necessary tax returns filed, and assets distributed as the deceased individual directed in their will. This distribution of assets will be conducted on behalf of the decedent by a person acting in a fiduciary capacity, either as the executor (in some states called a personal representative) or as a trustee, depending upon how the decedent held his or her property.
The executor plays a very important role after the testator (the deceased will maker) dies as they have a number of duties including the task of tracking down assets, paying creditors, and making sure beneficiaries named in the will receive property to which they are entitled. Being an executor is not a simple role and should not be taken on without serious consideration. To help you gain an informed perspective on the duties of an executor, we have outlined some general information and frequently asked questions that all executors should consider.
When we decide to sit down and write a Will we obviously think about our valuable possessions, property and savings, but more importantly than all of that, you might need to consider a legal guardian for your children.
Two-thirds of American parents haven’t chosen a legal guardian, but whether your children are infants or teenagers, they are the ones that will benefit from careful parental attention to guardianship. The nomination of a legal guardian is a straightforward aspect of any family’s estate plan but you will want to give a full consideration of all potential guardians before jumping into a decision.