A comprehensive manual on the Last Will and Testament: What it is and how it works

Having a Last Will and Testament is essential for proper financial and legal planning, however, many people procrastinate in dealing with this emotional task. Many Americans believe that they don’t need a Will because they are too young or don’t have enough assets or net worth. Others may think it’s too late to start making one. However, EstatePros wants to emphasize that regardless of age, net worth, or stage in life, having a Last Will and Testament is crucial.

EstatePros offers this comprehensive guide that covers all the necessary information about Wills, such as the different types of Wills, who requires one, and how to obtain a Will online.

Top 8 things that everyone should be aware of regarding Wills

  •  What is a Will?
  •  What is the reason for having a Will?
  •  What kinds of Wills exist?
  •   What does a Will consist of?
  •  What distinguishes a Will from a Trust?
  •  What is the price of creating a Will?
  •  What are the procedures for drafting a Will?
  •  What other frequently asked questions about Wills should I consider?What does the term Will mean?A Will, which is also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, is a legally binding document that outlines how your assets and wealth will be distributed after you pass away. If you have children, a valid Will enables you to specify who will take care of them. Nonetheless, a Will is just one aspect of a complete Estate Plan.The origin of Wills can be traced back to the Ancient Roman era. The concept was developed with the intention of giving directions on how one’s assets should be distributed to their beneficiaries after their death. It is noteworthy that several of the initial prerequisites for creating Last Will and Testaments that were established in England during the 19th century have remained unchanged and are still mandatory in many states today.

Put simply, a well-prepared Will is a legally binding paper that guarantees the safeguarding of your possessions, spouse, and descendants after your demise. By clearly stating your desires for the future, your last requests will not be disregarded if someone else tries to intervene.

What is the reason for having a Will?

It is important for all individuals who are 18 years or older to have a Will. This is especially true if they have any savings, investments, property, or dependents. Without a Will, the distribution of assets will be determined by state laws and the courts. If someone passes away without a Will, their spouse, children, parents, or other close relatives will usually become the beneficiaries of their estate. Therefore, it is crucial to take the time to create a Last Will and Testament.

7 types of Wills for a variety of purposes

There are various kinds of legally recognized Wills, and the one you opt for will be determined by a number of factors, such as the size and complexity of your assets.

Simple Wills

A Simple Will enables you to express your fundamental desires without incorporating various conditions or provisions. However, the term “simple” can be deceptive since this type of Will can actually achieve a lot. You can still nominate an Executor who is responsible for ensuring that your wishes are followed accordingly. Additionally, you can assign a caretaker for any underage children or dependents.

Testamentary Trust Wills

A Testamentary Trust, which is also referred to as a “Trust Under Will” or a “Will Trust,” is a type of trust that is included in a person’s Will. Like other trusts, it distributes assets after the person’s death. However, unlike other trusts that are established during the person’s lifetime, a Testamentary Trust is only established after the person passes away. This type of trust goes through probate and is commonly used when beneficiaries require long-term care, such as minors or dependents with special needs.

Joint Wills

A Joint Will is comparable to a Mutual Will, but it differs in that it only consists of a single document, whereas a Mutual Will comprises two. Joint Wills can be advantageous in situations where you desire your spouse to inherit your entire estate initially, with your children being the final beneficiaries after both of you have passed away. Essentially, a Joint Will is a single Will that serves two individuals. It’s crucial to note that a Joint Will becomes unalterable (meaning it cannot be modified) once one partner dies. However, changes can be made as long as both parties are alive.

Online Wills

An Online Will is a digital document that serves the same purpose as a traditional Will. It can provide sufficient protection for your assets and is much cheaper than hiring an attorney for Estate Planning. However, it is important to exercise caution when creating Estate Planning documents online. You

should read reviews and ensure that the company you choose is legitimate and authorized to prepare legal documents. Just as you would carefully select an attorney, you want to work with an online company that produces reliable and legally binding documents.

Deathbed Wills

A Deathbed Will is likely the least efficient and most troublesome type of Will. It is created when a person is in a critical condition, close to death. Due to the extreme circumstances under which it is written, there are often numerous issues that arise, such as overlooked assets and doubts about mental capacity.

Holographic Wills

A Holographic Will is a handwritten and signed Will. Although not very frequent, this type of Will still exists and is usually created in urgent and life-threatening circumstances. Even though holographic Wills do appear from time to time, they are not acknowledged in all states.

Nuncupative Wills

A Nuncupative Will is an oral declaration of one’s last wishes. Similar to Holographic Wills, the recognition and validity of Nuncupative Wills vary from state to state. Some states require a specific number of witnesses or for the wishes to be written down after being spoken, while others may have additional requirements.

What does a Will consist of?

Although there are various kinds of Wills, most of them will contain certain fundamental elements.

Executor: By selecting an Executor, you are designating the person responsible for ensuring that the instructions outlined in your Will are carried out. Your Executor may be your partner, a relative who is of legal age, a trusted acquaintance, a legal professional, or even one of your adult offspring. Additionally, you have the option to appoint Co-Executors.

Guardianship: One of the main reasons why parents create a Will is to choose a guardian for their children. The feeling of security that comes from selecting the most suitable person to take care of their kids is invaluable.

Assets: A Will is a legal document that determines the distribution of your assets and personal belongings to your beneficiaries. It allows you to designate which individuals receive specific items or portions of your estate.

Real Property: If you possess any building, construction, or residence at the time of your death, it is classified as “real property.” In certain cases, it may be beneficial to establish a Trust that possesses all real property.

Final Arrangements Instructions: In estate planning, a significant aspect is outlining the details of your funeral and expressing your desires for the handling of your body after death.

Distinctions between a Will and a Trust

The main contrast between a Will and a trust is that a trust becomes active immediately upon its creation and signature, while a Will only becomes effective after the individual has died. There are some other differences as well, including:

  •  In order to transfer assets to chosen beneficiaries, Wills need to go through the probate process, while trusts (both revocable and irrevocable) can bypass this requirement.
  •  Wills are available for public viewing, whereas Trusts are kept confidential.
  •  A Will becomes valid only after you die, whereas a Trust can be put into action right away andcan guide your decisions in case you are unable to make them yourself while still alive.What is the cost of creating a Will?It is clear that the expenses involved in creating and completing a Will can vary greatly depending on the approach you choose to take. Holographic Wills costs only the ink and paper used to draft the Will. At the other end of the cost spectrum, meeting a lawyer in person several times to discuss and implement a plan is the most costly option.Process and procedures for making a WillNo matter which method you choose to make your Will, there are certain fundamental actions you should take to guarantee that you have included everything necessary. This will ensure that your final desires are understood and followed.
  1. Make a list of all the things you own. All of your belongings, including your residence and personal possessions, as well as your digital assets, should be taken into consideration.
  2. Select the individuals who will receive benefits from your estate or insurance policy. Make a decision on which individuals you wish to allocate specific items to.
  3. Choose someone to be the executor. Select the individual you want and inform them about your decision.
  4. Make a choice about who you will select as a guardian for your children. This action is only required if you have young children or grandchildren.
  5. Be clear and specific. Being very precise about the distribution of your assets is crucial to ensure that your last desires are fulfilled correctly.
  6. If you choose not to go through the conventional process of hiring an attorney, you can create your Will online. It is crucial to locate a reliable individual among the numerous options available. It is advisable to seek a partner who comprehends the intricacies and difficulties of Estate Planning.
  7. Make sure to sign and have your Will notarized. In the majority of states, two witnesses are necessary, although there are a few, like Vermont, that mandate a greater number.
  8. Store your last testament in a secure location. The most ideal choice is to have a safe that is resistant to fire. Some individuals choose to utilize a safe deposit box at a bank. However, there is a disadvantage to this as it may be challenging to gain access to the safe deposit boxes after the owner passes away.

9. Revise your Last Will and Testament. It is advisable to do this on a regular basis as required, but it is suggested to do it every three to five years or after significant life events.

Frequently Asked Questions about Wills Is it necessary to hire a lawyer to draft a Will?

It is not necessary to hire a lawyer to draft your Will. Although some individuals may prefer the guidance of a legal professional, it is important to remember that there are alternative methods to obtain this assurance rather than solely relying on the conventional approach.

Is it possible for you to draft your own Last Will and Testament?

Although there is no prohibition on creating your own Will, the chances of producing a document that is legally valid, efficient, and conclusive are minimal. Additionally, each state has its own set of criteria that must be met, and failing to meet them could result in an invalid Will.

What is the outcome if you do not have a Will?

In case you don’t have a Will at the time of your death, you Will be considered to have died “Intestate”. This implies that the distribution of your assets Will be determined by the laws of the state you reside in.

What are the things that you should avoid including in your Will?

There are specific items that are inappropriate or unsuitable to include in your Will. For instance, your Will should not contain:

  •  Property that is owned by two or more people together.
  •  Arrangements for a funeral (Even though it is possible to include funeral plans in a Will, there issome disagreement about this. If you decide to include your funeral wishes in your Will, it is recommended to also document them elsewhere, as sometimes plans that are only in a Will may be discovered too late.)
  •  Individual life insurance policies require you to choose a beneficiary.
  •  Retirement funds, like life insurance, require you to assign a beneficiary who Will inherit yourfunds after your death.
  •  The emergence of technology has brought about a new concept in Estate Planning known as”digital estate”. This includes digital items such as cloud-based accounts, eBooks, iTunes purchases, videos, and other similar items. Although these cannot be included in a Will, it is possible to appoint a “Digital Executor” who will have the power to manage your digital accounts.What distinguishes a Will from a Living Will?You might be familiar with the term Living Will, also known as an Advance Healthcare Directive. But what exactly is a Living Will and how does it differ from a regular Will?

A Living Will is a legal document that is created while you are still alive and mentally capable. Its primary function is to provide instructions on what medical treatments you want to receive if you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. It should not be confused with a regular Will, which outlines how your assets should be distributed after your death. A Living Will only has authority while you are alive and when you cannot make decisions for yourself.

Is it necessary for both my partner and I to create individual Wills?

Nowadays, the majority of married couples and partners create separate Wills. Although Joint Wills are available, they have significant disadvantages and minimal advantages.

What is the recommended frequency for updating my Will?

Although there is no specific date or schedule for updating your Will, a general guideline is that whenever you experience a significant life event, you should review your Will. Life events can include:

  •  The birth of a child
  •  Death of anyone related to the Will
  •  Marriage or divorce
  •  Change in ownership of major property
  •  Moving to a new state or countryIt is advisable to periodically review your Will, even if there are no significant changes in your life. A review every three to five years is typically sufficient.What distinguishes a testator from an executor?The testator is the individual for whom the Will is created. The Will outlines the testator’s desires after their death. The executor is the person designated by the testator to manage the Will after their passing.Is it possible for someone to challenge the validity of my Will?Having a well-structured and carefully thought-out Will can only be challenged under specific and clearly defined legal circumstances, such as:
  •  If there are doubts about the mental stability or ability of the person who signed the document (testator) at the time of signing.
  •  The person who made the Will was not in a clear state of mind when they signed it.
  •  In different states, there may be varying requirements for the number of witnesses needed tosign and witness a Will, which can raise questions about the process.
  •  Doubt regarding deceit, improper persuasion, force or pressure.

Where is the appropriate place to store my Last Will and Testament?

Make sure to store your Will in a secure location. Some people opt to hand it over to their designated executor, who should ideally keep it in a personal safe that is resistant to fire and water damage. Alternatively, it can be kept in a bank safe deposit box, as long as the key and access authority have been provided to the executor.

Making plans for the future is not just a wise decision: It is the only way to manage your inheritance, safeguard your loved ones, and achieve a sense of tranquility. When you are certain that your last desires have been clearly expressed and Will be carried out precisely as you intended, it is an incredibly empowering feeling.

There is no better day than today to take control of your future by making the decision to create your Last Will and Testament. Discover which option is best for you.

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