Last Will and Testament and Will Forms
Last Will and Testaments are essential for everyone. US Legal Forms, Inc. offers Last Will and Testaments 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.
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This is a Sample Will. You will receive the one for your State. Mutual Wills are most popular for Couples.
ALL WILLS HAVE BEEN PREPARED FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION. MARRIED, SINGLE, CHILDREN, NO CHILDREN, ETC.
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You should keep your Will in a safe place once executed. It is also recommended that you give a copy to your executor or other person as additional proof of execution.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR WILL FORM
This section will briefly explain some of the articles of your will and provide other information. Articles of the Will which are basically self explanatory are not discussed here
First Paragraph: The first paragraph of the Will, provides your name, residence information and provides that all prior Wills, if any, are revoked since you have now made a new Will.
Article Three: Some people have specific property that they desire to leave to a specific person, such as a ring or antique. This Article is for you to leave such property. You do not have to name specific property and may simply state none if no property is to be left under this Article.
Article Eleven: This Article is for you to name a personal representative, also called executor or executrix. The person named should be an adult and may be your spouse or relative.
Article Twelve: If not waived, some Courts will require your Personal Representative post a bond, and file an inventory, accounting and/or appraisal. All can be costly and time consuming. This Article states your intention that your Personal Representative not be required to post a bond or file an inventory or accounting.
Article Thirteen: This Article sets forth powers of your Personal Representative and is designed to give broad powers without the requirement that Court approval be sought for action by the Representative to the extent permitted by the laws of your State.
Article Fourteen: This article sets forth some legal construction intentions to clarify some of the issues which may arise. It also contains a common disaster clause which provides that if you and your spouse die in a common disaster, your Will is to have precedence. In cases where you and your wife are making Wills, you would only include this paragraph in one Will, or state in both which Will is to control.
What is a Will? A Will is a document which provides who is to receive your property at death, who will administer your estate, the appointment of trustees and guardians, if applicable, and other provisions.
Who may make a Will? Generally, any person 18 years or older of sound mind may make a Will. (Some states allow persons under 18 to make a Will)
What happens if I die without a Will? If you die without a will you are an intestate. In such a case, state laws govern who receives your property. These laws are called "intestate succession laws". If you die without a Will, the Court decides who will administer your estate. Generally, it is more expensive to administer an estate of a person who died without a Will, than a person who dies with a Will.
When making a Will you need to consider who will be named as your personal representative or executor to administer your estate, who you will name as guardian and trustee of minor children if your spouse does not survive you and who will receive your property. You should also consider tax issues. The person appointed as executor or administrator is often your spouse, but you should also name an alternate, in case your spouse predeceases you. The person you name should be a person you can trust and who will get along with the beneficiaries named in the Will.
In the event your spouse predeceases you, the guardian you name will have actual custody of your minor children unless a court appoints someone else. The trustee you appoint to administer a trust you established will be in charge of the assets of the trust for the benefit of the minor beneficiaries.
Generally, a Will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses (three for Vermont) who also sign the Will. A notary public will also need to sign if the Will contains a self-proving affidavit. Generally, a self-proving affidavit allows the Will to be admitted to probate without other evidence of execution.
Joint Property: Many people do not understand that joint property may pass outside your Will and also sometimes assume that it will pass through their Will. They do not understand the significance of joint ownership. The issue is common in the following areas, provided as examples:
(a) Real Estate: Often, a husband and wife will own real estate as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If one party dies, the surviving party receives the property regardless of what the Will provides. This is common and generally acceptable. However, if this is not your desire you should change the ownership of the property to tenants in common or other form of ownership. If you own real estate as tenants in common, then you may designate who will receive your share of the property at your death. This issue can be a problem when uninformed persons take title to real estate as joint tenants with rights of survivorship but really intended to leave their share to, for example, children of a prior marriage.
(b) Bank Accounts/Certificates of Deposit, Stock, Retirement Plans, IRA's and other type Property: The same ownership as real estate can be made of these investments. In fact, many Banks routinely place Bank accounts and Certificates of Deposit in the joint tenant with right of survivorship form of ownership if more than one person is on the account or CD, without advising you of the consequence of same. In situations where the persons are husband and wife and there is no issue or concern over divorce or children from previous marriages, this may be the best course of action. However, with divorce on the rise, premarital agreements and multiple marriages being common, the parties may be doing something that was not their intent. Another common problematic situation is where a parent has more than one child but only one child resides in the hometown of the parent. The parent may place the name of the child who resides there on all accounts, CD's and other investments for convenience reasons and establish a joint tenant with right of survivorship situation without realizing that only that child will be entitled to those assets at the parent's death. Simply put, you should be aware when you acquire an asset or investment exactly how it is titled.
For additional information, see the Law Summary and Information and Preview links in the search results for this form. A Definitions section is also linked on the Information and Preview page.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF
BE IT KNOWN THIS DAY THAT,
I, _____________________________, of __________________ County, Florida, being of legal age and of sound and disposing mind and memory, and not acting under duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence of any person, do make, declare and publish this to be my Will and hereby revoke any Will or Codicil I may have made.
Marriage and Children
I am married to _____________________________ and have the following children from said marriage:
Name: _____________________________ Date of Birth: __________________
Name: _____________________________ Date of Birth: __________________
Name: _____________________________ Date of Birth: _________________
Name: ____________________________ Date of Birth: _________________
Debts and Expenses
I direct my Personal Representative to pay all costs and expenses of my last illness and funeral expenses. I further direct my Personal Representative to pay all of my just debts that may be probated, registered and allowed against my estate. However, this provision shall not extend the statute of limitations for the payment of debts, or enlarge upon my legal obligation or any statutory duty of my Personal Representative to pay debts.
Specific Bequests of Real and/or Personal Property
I will, give and bequeath unto the persons named below, if he or she survives me, the Property described below:
Name Address Relationship Property
In the event I name a person in this Article and said person predeceases me, the bequest to such person shall lapse and the property shall pass under the other provisions of this Will. In the event that I do not possess or own any property listed above on the date of my death, the bequest of that property shall lapse.
Homestead or Primary Residence
I will, devise and bequeath all my interest in my homestead or primary residence, if I own a homestead or primary residence on the date of my death that passes through this Will, to my spouse, _____________________________, if he or she survives me. If he or she does not survive me, then my homestead or primary residence shall pass under the residuary clause of this Will.
All Remaining Property - Residuary Clause
I will, devise, bequeath and give all the rest and remainder of my property and estate of every kind and character, including, but not limited to, real and personal property in which I may have an interest at the date of my death and which is not otherwise effectively disposed of, to my spouse, _____________________________.
Contingent - All Remaining Property - Residuary Clause
In the event that my spouse shall predecease me, I will, devise, bequeath and give all the rest and remainder of my property and estate of every kind and character, including, but not limited to, real and personal property in which I may have an interest at the date of my death and which is not otherwise effectively disposed of ("Residuary Estate"), to my child(ren) _______________________________________________________. If I have more than one child and any one of my children shall predecease me, then the equal share set apart for that deceased child shall instead be distributed to his or her descendants, per stirpes. If one of my children shall predecease me leaving no descendants surviving, then the equal share set apart for that deceased child shall instead be distributed to my other child, or if that child has also predeceased me, then to his or her descendants, per stirpes.
Property To Vest In Trustee for Child Beneficiary
In the event that my spouse predeceases me as provided in Article Six, and any of my children are under the age of __________________ years of age, then I direct that my Personal Representative shall transfer, assign and deliver over to my Trustee, named below, such beneficiary's share of my estate and the objects of property described herein. I direct my Trustee to hold said Beneficiaries share of my estate on the following terms and conditions:
A. The Trustee shall hold and administer the assets of the Trust for the use and benefit of the Beneficiaries for the purpose of providing for their health, education and general welfare in accordance with their accustomed standard of living as much as is possible, considering the value of the Trust property and their other sources of income.
Remainder of Form Omitted
Last Will and Testament-Does It Really Matter if You Don't Have One?
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.
What is a Will?
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.
What is Required to Make a Valid Last Will?
The following are legal requirements:
- The will maker's sound mind-the will must be made with freedom from undue influence; an act done freely and knowingly.
- The testator's signature before the witnesses.
- Witnesses-generally, two witnesses are required to witness the will.
- One or more heirs (devisees, beneficiaries, legatees) must generally be clearly named.
The following are basic terms recommended to be included:
- A revocation of any prior wills and/or codicils should be included.
- An executor should be named to make sure the estate will be admitted to probate, manage the distribution of the estate, collect debts, pay creditors, file any federal estate tax and other tax forms due, etc.
- A residuary clause should be included to specify how any later acquired or unspecified property should be distributed.
- A testamentary trust can be created, in which case a trustee is also named.
- A guardian may be named for minor children living at the time of the testator's death.
Who Needs 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:
- If your significant other isn't your spouse, he or she may be evicted from the home you shared by a long-lost relative.
- If both parents of a child die without a will, the court will name a guardian to take custody of the minor children and handle their inheritance from the parents' estate. Even worse, if your estate recovers a large settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit after you die in a car accident, it may be taken over by the state if you didn't write a will.
- You separated from your spouse years ago, but never got a divorce and now he or she is able to disinherit those closest to you.
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.
Some Other Benefits of Making a Will Include:
- Making a will is the only way you can choose trusted persons to act as your personal representatives, who will manage your estate and distribute it as you would have wanted.
- A will may also create a guardianship for any surviving dependents to provide for their care according to your wishes.
- Many USLegal will forms allow you to give personalized instructions for your burial or cremation, funeral wishes, and anatomical donation preferences, if any.
- A will also can minimize or avoid federal estate tax and other tax liabilities that may be due without one. A properly drafted will can greatly decrease estate taxes.
- A will can spare your family from the expense and delay of intestate distribution probate procedures and prevent family conflicts.
- A will can create a testamentary trust to make sure any assets not mentioned in the will can be distributed according to the testator'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.
Do I Need to Make A New Will if I Move to a New State?
I made a will a few years ago while I lived in New York. I now live in California and am wondering if I need to make a will again for the new state?
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.
What is the Best Way to Make Changes to a Will?
I need to update my will with some changes and am wondering whether I should make a new will or can I add notes to my old 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.
What is a Mutual Will?
What is the purpose for a husband and wife to make a mutual will?
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.
Can We Force an Executor to Show Us a Will After Someone Dies?
Our father recently passed away and the executor refuses to disclose the details about his estate. What are our rights as children to see the will?
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.
How Do I Prove a New Will Was Written?
My father made a will in 2002, but had it changed in 2007. However, the copy of the will left with my mother got lost and we don't know how to find it. What can be done in this situation in order to probate the estate?
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.
Can the Same Person Be Named Executor, Trustee and Beneficiary In a Will?
Is it possible for me to prepare a will and name the same person as executor, trustee, and beneficiary in my will?
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.
What Happens to a Child's Share of an Inheritance if the Child Dies?
My sister left a will and gave a share of her real property to each of my children, but one of them has since passed away. What happens to the share of the deceased child?
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.
Do I Need a Trust if I Have a Last Will?
I already have a last will. Do I need to make a trust document too?
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.