What Is A Last Will and Testament?
Executing a last will and testament is not something
that should be put off or avoided even though it can be a
hard topic to discuss. If a person dies without a will the
state will decide what will happen to their assets. When a
person dies without a will it is known as intestate succession.
Typically, an individual’s spouse or children would receive the
assets first. If an individual does not have a spouse or any children,
the closest living relatives would then receive the assets.
In order to avoid intestate succession, a last will and testament
should be created stating what should happen to the
assets in the event of a death.
Some individuals have chosen created a holographic will as
their last will and testament. A holographic will is a handwritten will.
Holographic wills are not accepted in every state because it is
hard to prove its authenticity. Therefore, holographic wills are generally
not recommended. As a result, having a will and estate attorney
draft a last will and testament along with other important estate
planning documents is the best way to secure an individual’s assets.
A last will and testament specifies what should happen with an
estate once an individual passes away. This document states who
should look after any children that have survived the decedent,
how properties should be divided, who should be in charge of
administrating the estate, and any specific gifts that the decedent
wanted to give to loved ones.
In order to properly execute a last will and testament,
you must be of sound mind. This means that the individual
must have a clear understanding of the documents in which
they are signing. The individual must be acting on their own free
will without undue influence from others. Lastly, the will must
be signed, witnessed, and notarized in accordance with state laws.
Once a last will and testament is executed, the will
should be stored in a safe location. There are many different locations
in which an individual can choose to store their original will.
One option is to keep the last will and testament at the law firm
where it was originally drafted. The law firm would store the will in a
fire-proof safe where it could not be destroyed or damaged.
Another option is to keep the last will and testament in a
safe deposit box. An individual can also decide to store their
will inside their own home. A last will and testament should be
stored in a fire-proof or water-proof safe within a residence.
This way if there is a flood or fire the estate planning
documents will not be destroyed or damaged.
A last will and testament along with other estate planning
documents should be periodically reviewed by an estate planning
attorney. It is important to update or change estate planning
documents when major events happen within a lifetime.
For example, marriage, divorce, death, birth of children or
grandchildren, major financial changes, or major law changes.
It is recommended that estate planning documents be updated
every five to seven years. Once changes have been made
and executed, the previous will is revoked and is no longer valid.
For more information regarding last wills and testament along
with other estate planning documents
please contact David M. Frees, III at 888-573-7407.