A last will and testament form is an important document that highlights what to do when someone dies. It is referred as last will and testament as it overwrites any will previously written. When someone dies, the most recent will they have written is taken to be their final will. For people who have a large amount of assets, it is important for them to have a last will and testament.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a last will and testament?
- 2 People to involve in a last will and testament:
- 3 Things to consider while writing a will:
- 4 What to include and how to write Last Will?
- 5 What happens in case I don’t write a Last Will?
- 6 Terms to understand for making your own will:
- 7 Do you require a Last Will and Testament?
- 8 Finalize your will:
- 9 Conclusion:
What is a last will and testament?
A last will and testament is a document that states what will be done with your property and other affairs after your death. You can also specify in the last will how your funeral would be conducted and set aside a specify amount for it. Your last will and testament also includes charitable contributions and other bequests.
In case, you pass away without a will then the state’s law defines how to deal with your property and other fairs. So, if you want to distribute your property as per your own wish, you should make a last will and testament.
People to involve in a last will and testament:
The following people should be involved in a last will and testament;
An executor is an individual who is responsible for making sure that your will is executed. The executor is the person who you trust. He/she has the authority to make your wishes come true in the best possible way. To be the executor, you can select a family member but this might involve you in a trouble. Furthermore, the will can be contested and even annulled in case the executor does not appear to be working in the best interests of the beneficiaries. Selecting a family member may make family drama about favoritism. People usually choose their lawyers to be the executors.
The executor has a lot of power. Therefore, it is important that it be someone who is capable of carrying out the task. The executor knows how to get the best price for your house in order to make sure that your children benefit as much as possible. Make sure that your executor will have enough knowledge on how to deal with your assets.
The beneficiary, in your last will and testament, is the person who you leave something to. There can be various beneficiaries. The beneficiary can be anyone, it can be a person or an organization whom you donate your wealth. People who don’t have any next of kin, they usually donate their wealth to a charity or to a project they really believe in. In case, there are various beneficiaries, you have to make sure that your outline the will properly.
Moreover, you should ensure that all your assets have been accounted for. You may decide to divide all your wealth and assets among all the beneficiaries. Also, you may divide your wealth as you see fit. You just have to ensure that your division must be clear so that there are no issues among the beneficiaries and that no one states that they have been treated unfairly by the executor.
In case, the main beneficiaries are no longer alive, you can also assign alternate beneficiaries. If the main beneficiaries are available to take the inheritance, the alternate beneficiaries will not get anything. But, in the absence of main beneficiaries, the alternate beneficiaries will be treated like main beneficiaries. It is essential to assign alternate beneficiaries. This is because none of us know what might happen in the future. If your beneficiary is the same age as you like your wife or husband, then it is doubly important to have alternate beneficiaries.
The witnesses are the people who witness that you are signing the will under any stress. If there is some doubt about the authenticity of a legal document, then it is necessary for legal documents to be ironclad. According to the law, the people can’t make any type of contracts who aren’t considered mentally sound.
Things to consider while writing a will:
You have to do following in a last will and testament;
- Determine Yourself
- Declare your will
- Declare any past will to be void
- Indicate that you are of sound mind and that you are not under any stress
- Mention your relationships
- Mention and authorize your executor
- Determine beneficiaries
- Identify what assets are yours to give away
- Explain and indicate how your assets will be given away
- Define conditional gifts
- Define Guardians
- Any special requests you may have, write it
- Finalize your will
Identifications and declarations
In the beginning of the will, you have to determine yourself fully. Other than your name, you also have to mention your social security number, or some other identification that is unique to you. This makes sure that there is no contestation regarding who wrote the will. You also have to declare that you are of sound mind. Additionally, state that you are writing the will with free will rather than undue stress to do so.
Also, it is essential that you declare the will to be your last. Declare any previous wills to be void and null. When the status of the property or beneficiaries change, people change their will. If you have any previous will and testament then make sure you void them by declaring on your latest will. It is also very helpful to determine the relationships you have. Include details regarding your spouse and your children.
What to include and how to write Last Will?
Let us discuss step-by-step what to include first in your Last Will;
Include personal information about you
At first, provide your personal details such as your name, address, and information about your spouse and children in the header of the document.
An executor is basically a person who settle your affairs after your death and make implementation of your Last Will. You should also appoint a backup executor in case the main executor passes away or can’t serve. Also, set a specific amount to be paid to the executor. However, every states has its own restrictions regarding who can legally be an executor.
Indicate your assets and beneficiaries
Specify all your assets that are your money and property in your Last Will and Testament. Two types of assets are there;
- Real assets (tangible personal property, land, and houses)
- Digital assets (bank account, online accounts, including social media accounts and domain names)
You should clearly state in your will what you want to be done with them after your death. Then, specify the beneficiaries. These are the people (family and friends) and entity who receives your assets. You can also donate your assets to charitable organizations and other institutions. Furthermore, in case you owe from the debtors then before distributing your assets, give them what you owe.
In case you and your spouse are deceased or your spouse isn’t able to take care of your minors then appoint a guardian who will look after your dependent minors after your death. You can also designate a pet caretaker for your pet.
Plan for your funeral
You should also specify your funeral wishes after filling out your Last Will. State that where you want your funeral will held and assign some money for it.
Witnesses and signatures
For witnesses, go through your state laws in order to identify who can legally act as witness or how many witnesses are allowed. Then, affix your signature and signature of the witnesses to make your Last Will legally valid.
What happens in case I don’t write a Last Will?
You put yourself and your loved ones at risk without writing a Last Will. Let us discuss it below;
- The law of state can get control over your property and decide who receive it.
- Your children will not receive your inheritance as it may goes to a second spouse.
- There might be disputes arises between your relatives regarding who receives what.
- No one knows how to plan your funeral and how much money is spent.
- The guardian that you never want to appoint for your children may be appointed by the court.
- Someone whom you don’t trust or know might manage digital property and online accounts.
Terms to understand for making your own will:
- Testator: a person who makes the will
- Probate: it is the legal process done after the testator death to make sure your Last will is valid.
- Executor: an individual who has a responsibility to settle your affairs as stated in your Last Will.
- Guardian: this is the person who takes care of your children after your death in case your spouse is also deceased.
- Beneficiary: the entities who receive your assets.
- Assets: your money, property, and other valuable things.
- Witness: someone who is mentally fit and have enough age to sign your will. He/she verifies your Last Will authenticity.
Do you require a Last Will and Testament?
In case, you want to own property, have children, or any assets at the time of your death, then you require a Last Will and Testament. Also, you must make this document if;
- You travel a lot or live abroad
- When you recently move or buy new house
- Work in the military
- Receive new wealth, assets, or property
- You are a parent or grandparent
- Recently married or divorced
Finalize your will:
When you have completed your will, it’s time to finalize it. It doesn’t matter what last will and testament template you use, you have to make it final. Also, make sure that it is legally binding in every aspect. In front of the witnesses, you have to sign the will and then the witnesses need to sign the will as well. Keep in mind that finalizing means the will is final. Without making the witness signatures void, you can’t make changes to the will. In case, you amend it in any way then you will have to sign it again and so will the witnesses.
When it comes to planning for the future, making a will is great step. The people who have lawyers, definitely, they have a will. This is because lawyers know the importance of last will and testaments.
In conclusion, having a last will and testament form is important in order to make sure that your loved ones will not have to face legal issues when you passes away. Your last will and testament should be legally void and applicable.