Create Last Will and Testament
     Last Will and Testament

    Last Will and Testament

    Family and personalEstate planning
    The last will and testament is a legal document outlining how you wish an executor to distribute your assets and property to your beneficiaries after your death. This contract is essential because it ensures that a probate court divides your estate and bequeaths assets to those you wish to inherit them. It will save your family from the stress and possible disagreements that may arise trying to figure out how to divide your estate. Easily customize and download this last will and testament to establish your needs.
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    Template Description

    For a last will and testament template to be legally valid, the person using it must be at least 18 years of age and have a sound mind. The person making a will is called a testator, and the document becomes effective after his or her death. 

    What Is a Last Will and Testament?

    A last will and testament is a legal document that outlines how a person wishes an executor to distribute certain assets and property to named beneficiaries after his or her death. The beneficiaries are the people who will inherit assets from someone after the person dies. The role of the executor is to: 

    • Locate the original and most recent will of the deceased;
    • Identify and gather the assets of the estate;
    • File an inventory of the estate’s assets in court according to state rules;
    • Ascertain the value of the assets;
    • Undertake a title search for any real property belonging to the deceased and determine if there are any encumbrances connected to the property;
    • Protect the assets pending distribution to beneficiaries;
    • Reach out to the beneficiaries and notify them of the intention to probate the will;
    • Notify banks, credit unions, trust companies, or any other financial institution where the deceased held an account;
    • Determine if the deceased had an insurance policy and submit a claim if the proceeds are payable to the estate;
    • Ascertain if there are any public or private pensions payable to the estate and pursue the relevant claims procedure;
    • Inform the appropriate government agencies of the death;
    • Represent the estate in court;
    • Pay cash legacies as outlined in the will and oversee the transfer of personal effects to the appropriate individuals;
    • Pay any debts and liabilities owed by the estate;
    • File appropriate tax returns for the decease; and
    • Distribute the assets. 

    If any beneficiaries are younger than 18, the last will and testament will be used to appoint a guardian responsible for their upbringing until they become legal adults. The guardian can make decisions for the child, such as which school the child will attend, and manage the child’s finances. 

    Why Is a Last Will & Testament Important?

    A last will and testament contract is essential for ensuring that a probate court will divide a person’s estate according to his or her wishes. The document allows a person to bequeath assets to those he or she wishes to inherit them. In the case of minors, a will enables a parent to designate trusted guardians over them. Overall, it will save family members from the stress and possible disagreements that may arise from trying to figure out how to divide a loved one’s estate.

    Who Needs a Last Will & Testament?

    Any person over the age of 18 who has any sort of investments, assets, real property, or dependents should have a will. A properly created last will and testament is the best way to protect the people and things you care about.

    What Should Be Included in a Will? 

    You can download a free last will and testament template to prepare a legally binding document, especially if you have a modest estate. However, if your estate is of a higher value, you may want to consider involving legal counsel to review your will and offer advice on any legal implications. In your will, you will include all of the following, if applicable:

    1. Personal information
    2. Appointment of an executor
    3. Assets bequests and requests
    4. Designated guardians (if any)
    5. Signed witnesses

    Personal Information 

    The personal information section should include a declaration that the testator is a legal adult of sound mind. Ensure that the statement revokes any other will that you may have previously created and mention that you make the document without any undue influence. 

    Appointment of an Executor

    The executor is responsible for implementing all aspects of your last will and testament. Give the executor the prerogative to make necessary adjustments, such as paying off debts and funeral expenses, before bequeathing the assets to your beneficiaries. It can be helpful not to appoint a beneficiary as executor but, rather, a trusted licensed attorney

    Assets Bequests and Requests

    Alongside property and assets, this section also lists a person’s debts. According to your wishes, your beneficiaries will divide your assets after settling any debt and funeral expenses. Some wills provide that beneficiaries must survive (be alive, or existing in the case of a company) the testator for a certain number of days before they become eligible to receive their inheritance. If you have any special preferences, such as how you wish the executor to handle your funeral or remains, make them known in this section.

    Designated Guardians

    In this section, if applicable, appoint legal guardians of your underage children in case you die as the sole parent. Only include this section if you have minor children or other dependents. 

    Signed Witnesses

    Review your state laws and requirements and include a section for your signature and the signatures of two witnesses. 

    *Please consider that this is a non-exhaustive list but just a few main items this document should include.*

    How To Write a Last Will and Testament

    Once you have the last will and testament form, provide the variable information while taking special care to provide the current legal names of individuals you wish to name as the executor, guardians, or beneficiaries. Gather the details of all your properties and assets in advance to make filling in the information easier. 

    Add Personal Information

    Proceed to fill in the relevant descriptive information about yourself, including: 

    • Name and address;
    • Marital status; and
    • Number of children and their dates of birth.

    Add Executor Information

    The next section of the last will and testament example is the appointment of an executor. Name the individual or company that you wish to be the executor and representative of your estate. Provide an alternative executor who should step in if circumstances bar the first-named executor from fulfilling the role. 

    Lists Your Assets 

    List the assets that you own when preparing your will. This list should include anything of value and can be anywhere from general, such as naming a collection of items, or specific, such as naming each piece of jewelry or property.

    Add Designated Guardians

    Provide the legal names and addresses of at least two potential guardians who will take over care for your dependents. The first person (or couple) named is your first choice for guardian, and the second named is your second choice in case the first is unwilling or unable. 

    Outline Your Bequests and Requests 

    If you have only one inheritor, consider providing the name of a second person in case the first person does not survive you. Ensure that you assign specific assets to appropriate individuals. List the beneficiaries’ current legal names, and addresses. 

    Signed Witnesses

    Sign the will and allow two witnesses to also sign the document after seeing you sign it. The document’s signing should be in your presence and on the same day you sign it. 

    When To Change or Revise Your Last Will & Testament

    Review your will at least every three years or each time there is a significant adjustment in your life, such as a marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary, or when minors reach the legal age of majority.

    How To Amend a Will

    Amending a will requires some efforts. You can change your will only by making a new one or by adding a codicil (which amends your will rather than replacing it). As with a will, a codicil requires signatures and witnesses.

    Will vs. Living Trust

    A will only becomes effective after a person’s death and outlines how he or she wishes an executor to handle the person’s property. The document gives the names of beneficiaries and appoints people to raise the decedent’s minor children. 

    A living trust is a legal document that outlines how a person wishes his or her property to be managed and distributed during the person’s lifetime and after his or her death. 

    Last Will and Testament Sample (PDF File)

    You may opt to download and work with a will available online for free. However, have a wills lawyer review your document and advise you if you have properly protected the interests of your minors and your beneficiaries.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What should you not include in a last will and testament?
    • Business interests: To ensure a smooth transition, you are advised not to include business interests.
    • Personal Wishes or desires: your personal wishes may be best suited in a letter of intent or a Trust for more control over how your estate is used.
    • Property: named beneficiary accounts that will automatically pay out to the named beneficiary on death. Jointly owned property automatically vests in the co-owner. Trust property is also a separate vehicle not subject to probate.
    What are the 8 steps of preparing a will?
    1. Choosing how to create your will: Some people prefer putting their estate in Trust, which minimizes taxes and ensures heirs follow their wishes. Others prefer a will.
    2. Create a list of assets: List all your accounts and other valuable property.
    3. Choose who inherits what
    4. Choose a guardian for your minor children.
    5. Draft the will – it's a good idea to consult with an attorney who can offer valuable insight.
    6. Name your executor: This is the person responsible for carrying out the terms of your will.
    7. Make your will official – Most states require your will to be signed by two witnesses who are at least 18 and aren’t beneficiaries of the will, and some states also require it to be notarized.
    8. Keep your will updated
    Can I write my own will and get it notarized?

    Some states may require that your Will has been notarized, Louisiana, for example. However, in many cases, notarization is not required. However, it may be a good idea to get your Will notarized regardless of whether it is needed. 

    This will allow you to add a self-proving affidavit, a voluntary document, to your Will. This document eliminates the need to validate your and the witnesses' signatures and speeds up the rebate process. Your estate can be distributed quicker to your loved ones according to your wishes.