Everything You Need to Know About the Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is also known as:
Will and Testament
What Happens After You Die? One Thing is For Sure…
It’s not at the top of everyone’s list to think about all of the “what ifs” after we’re gone, but there is one thing we know for sure—if you die without a Last Will, the state will decide what happens to anything and anyone you leave behind, regardless of your wishes. Making a Will enables you to leave instructions for how your money and assets will be distributed, and what happens to your children and your pets. That’s why if you own anything of value—monetary or even sentimental value, you need a Will--especially if you are married or have children or pets.
Who does not need a will? If you are young, childless, petless and broke, you may not need a Will (but you need a life, or at least a cat).
When There’s a Will, There’s a Way.
Who will take care of your children? What about your pets? Who will pay for their care? Estate planning is really about planning for the future of your loved ones and loved things left behind—family, furry friends, even charities or organizations that are near and dear to your heart. You’re already in the right place to get started. The Last Will template is free; you answer a few simple questions above, and you are on your way to create a Will.
You Can’t Take It With You
You’ve worked hard for what you have, and it’s your right to decide what happens to it after you’re gone. You exercise that right by drafting a Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that communicates your instructions for the distribution of your estate, to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in your absence. It’s simple. We make it easy. It’s free.
Understanding the Terms in a Will
Testator is the person who creates the Will, the one whose property will be distributed upon his/her death.
Estate refers to your net worth—the sum of your assets owned, less the value of your liabilities/debts.
Executor/Personal Representative is the person who is in charge to carry out the wishes of the Testator.
Heir/Beneficiary the person/organization who receives the assets of the Testator. The Beneficiary can be a person, organization or a place.
The Benefits of Having a Will
Leave your estate or specific assets to friends or institutions. Without a Will, only family members-or possibly the state, stand to inherit your estate.
Name a guardian for your minor children or dependent with special needs. You could also use the Will to name a guardian for your pet.
Prevent family conflicts or confusion on matters regarding your estate. Your instructions will be stated in writing in the will.
Give your estate to someone or an organization if you don't have any living relatives. This is because, in the absence of living relatives, your estate goes to the state.
Create trusts. A trust fund allows you to set aside assets such as money, property, stock for the benefit of another, in a fund managed by a neutral third party called a trustee. The most common trusts facilitate asset protection, asset accumulation, or keeping assets in the family. You could also create a trust for the care of a special needs dependent, or one that will offer credit and tax shelters if you have a large estate.
Address asset distribution in a blended family, as well as what happens after divorce or remarrying.
Name a personal representative who will file the Will with the probate court for validation, manage and distribute the estate.
Set in motion a business succession plan.
Requirements for the Validity of the Last Will
The Testator must be of legal age and considered an adult as per the requirements of the state they reside in, and they should be of sound mind. A Testator must act voluntarily.
To affirm the state and the signing of the Will, most states require the presence of at least two adult witnesses, or you could notarize the Will at the notary public.
If the Testator is unable to sign the Will, he or she could ask someone else to sign the Will on their behalf, under the Testator's direction and in the Testator's presence.
The Will must name the Executor, Beneficiaries and the Testator, and the witnesses must sign the Will.
The Will must be in writing. However, some states accept holographic (handwritten) or nuncupative (oral) Wills, under special circumstances like the Testator serving in active duty in the military.
Types of Wills
A Simple Will only names beneficiaries to the estate.
Besides naming beneficiaries, the Complex Will names guardians, creates trusts, as well as plans for business succession and asset protection. This Will addresses the complex matters around family structures and asset distribution.
Changing Your Will
You can change or update your Will at any time if your family situation changes (having kids, marrying or divorcing), if someone named in the Will passes away, if you move to a different state, if you buy or sell assets, if you change your legal name, or if you change your opinions on asset distribution.
To implement the changes, you require a codicil - an amendment to be implemented in the same way as the original Will.
Revoking Your Will
In most cases and laws applicable in most states, you can revoke your Will by executi