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Last Will and Testaments are essential for everyone. US Legal Forms, Inc. offers Last Will and Testament forms and instructions for people with children, without children, divorced individuals, married couples, singles, widows, widowers and others. Mutual wills and wills with trusts for minor children are also available. Free Law Summaries and previews.
None of us like to think about sitting down and making a will, but unfortunately, none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. By avoiding the issue, you may be leaving numerous legal problems and disputes for your survivors after your death. When you make a will, you help ensure your belongings won't wind up in the wrong hands, and that whatever is left will not be eaten up by extra costs and expenses. A last will & testament can also make sure other final wishes are carried out, such as guardianship for your children, funeral wishes, burial or cremation instructions, and more.
A will is a legal document used to distribute your assets (personal property, real property, intangible assets) to your named beneficiaries. It allows you to name an executor who will handle your estate and see that all the details of your last wishes are carried out and follow legal requirements. A will may help prevent the estate administration process from forcing the sale of cherished family heirlooms and irreplaceable items. Typically, to create a legal will, you must sign it in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign after your signature to vouch for your sound mind and freedom from undue influence.
A last will and testament is crucial to make sure that the final wishes of the deceased are respected. The only way to ensure that the proper heirs inherit the right property from your estate in the probate process is to make a will. Taking the time now to prepare a will can prevent unintended consequences that often occur if you avoid creating a will.
Whether or not you are a single person, you are married, have children, or living with a significant other, you can't assume that those you care about are sure to inherit your estate when you are deceased. Here are just a few examples:
A will is a legal document that allows a person to make sure their final wishes are fulfilled. By completing a will, a person gives instructions on how to distribute their assets among the intended beneficiaries, and makes other final wishes. A person may leave a bequest in any manner desired in a will, leaving everything to be distributed to one beneficiary or to be equally divided among them, or in any percentage stated. Testators may want to leave everything to a surviving spouse, and/or to leave property to their children, or not. When there is more than one heir, property is not required to be divided among them in equal shares.
A will also allows a person to choose trusted individuals to act as their personal representatives, in order to manage the estate, close up affairs, and distribute it according to the testator's stated wishes. Without a will, a person may end up having their property distributed by a stranger chosen by the court according to their state's rules of intestacy, or it could escheat to the state. This may cause much more expense and delay in the administration process than a will would require, and the property may wind up being distributed against the deceased?s wishes.
By failing to a create a will, a deceased persons property will be distributed according the state intestacy statute, or may be forfeited to the state. This may create more expense and delay than if there is a last will, and can also mean that your probate estate may wind up in unintended hands. Your estate might wind up being administered by a complete stranger selected by the court. The only way to make sure your final wishes for your family and property are followed is to make a Will. You owe it to yourself and your family to give yourself the peace of mind of knowing your estate planning needs are met by preparing a will form.
It is always good practice to review your will periodically to see if updates are needed. While one state will generally recognize the will of another state as long you create a will that complies with the laws of the state where it was made. However, if the move is due to an event like divorce or involves the purchase of a new home, it is time to take a look at updating your will.
The answer will depend on the nature of the change. A codicil may be used to make minor corrections, but where there is a significant change in assets, or the way the property is to be distributed, it is often preferred to create a new will to avoid confusion among multiple documents and reduce the risk of challenges to the will. A codicil is best only used for minor changes, such as the death of an executor or birth of an heir. Generally, the fewer documents to be interpreted together the better. Witnesses must sign the codicil in the same way as a last will testament.
A mutual will is typically made between a married couple, where each makes a reciprocal will, agreeing to how they want to leave their property according to a mutual agreement on how each is to distribute their own estate at death. It is not necessary that the couple agree to leave personal or other property in equal shares or to be equally divided among their children a certain way. The promises contained in a mutual will do not become binding on the surviving spouse until the first spouse dies. Until that time, either spouse may change the will. However, mutual wills may include an agreement not to revoke a will or else the party is in breach of the contract to dispose of property as agreed through the wills. A court may impose a constructive trust on the property in the case of such a breach.
One way of having the will produced is to file a petition asking the court for administration of the estate and by asking that you be named as administrator. The petition is filed at the probate court in the county where the deceased resided at the time of death. That will usually force the will to be produced in court and once it is filed it becomes a matter of public record and you can see all the details. If it has not yet been filed, you can force the filing by starting an action for an administration of the estate and by asking that you be named as the administrator.
Some states allow a will registry to be created at the courthouse, so you may try inquiring at the local probate court whether they maintain such a registry. Other locations to look include a safe deposit box (this may require a court order if you didn't sign the signature card), under mattresses, between book pages, car glove areas or trunks, or other private safes. If you don't know the attorney who drafted the will, you might look for old checks made out to attorneys or legal firms. You can also ask friends of the deceased who may have acted as witnesses whether or not there was mention of where the will was kept or the attorney involved. An address book may be a good resource for people to contact.
Yes, one person may be executor, trustee, and beneficiary in a will. It is similar to the way roles may be shared under a trust agreement, where the same person can be both grantor and trustee, grantor and beneficiary, trustee and beneficiary, or even all three.
There are often terms in a last will and testament dealing with how a lapsed child's share will be distributed. Commonly, the property of a lapsed heir will become part of the residuary estate and be distributed according to the terms of the residuary clause in the will.
The answer will depend on all of the circumstances in your situation, but there are living trust and testamentary trusts. Testamentary trusts are created in a will and take effect when you die. They can be used to manage the distribution of assets that weren't specifically dealt with in the last will and testament form, such as property you acquired later.