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Last Will And Testament
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By Igor Krishtul, ChFC, EA
document is more commonly referred to as a will. Everybody knows what
the will is, right? Well, let’s see. The will is an instrument
that allows you to provide for disposition of assets after death. This
is the primary reason many people make wills.
is also the very reason many people do not make wills. I don’t
have much, so I don’t need a will yet. First, even if you
don’t have much today, this can change in the near future. Having
a valid will in place doesn’t hurt.
important, the will allows you to name a guardian for your minor
children. The guardian must still be approved by the probate judge.
This holds true, even if you name one in your will. Yet, your
instructions are given a lot of weight. Having minor children is by
itself a solid reason to have a will.
folks are even less likely to make a will. Hey, they are not going to
die soon, they still got time. Well, not all people die of natural
causes. Even the healthiest young people are not immune to death caused
by the acts of nature, accidents, crime or war. So, not being old or
terminally ill is not a good excuse. Once you die, you can’t make
a sense, your will is an opportunity to convey your final instructions
from beyond the grave. Each state has its own laws and customs related
to the last will and testament. The person making a will is called the
will’s validity is determined through probate. The probate court
may invalidate a will in full. Alternatively, only parts of the will
may be declared invalid. The wills may be contested. Usually, this is
done by disgruntled heirs.
a will to be valid, the testator must have the capacity to make one.
This requires a “sound mind and body”. It doesn’t
mean you have to be in the best mental and physical shape of your life.
The key here is that you know and understand what’s going on.
example, if you suffer from a mental illness, have a mental breakdown,
are under the influence of drugs, signing a will may raise serious
questions. Likewise, a will cannot be valid if it is drafted and
executed under inappropriate circumstances. These include undue
influence, duress and fraud.
make a will, you must also have reached the age of majority in most
states. It doesn’t matter how smart or mature the child is. Also,
you cannot make a will for your minor child, even if he or she is your
you must sign and date your will. It must be also witnessed by at least
two qualified individuals. Having three or more witnesses is even
better. Your will revokes all previously made wills.
trusts are often used as primary estate planning documents. Even so,
you should still have a will. A living trust can indeed provide for a
distribution of property after death. Just like a will. But, it’s
not always possible – or prudent – to transfer all of your
assets to trusts.
of your property may have already been transferred to living trusts. In
this case, a “pour-over” type of a will can be used. It can
specify that assets left in your name at death are added to your trusts
and used – or distributed – as directed in your trusts.
and related documents filed in probate courts are open to public.
Hence, they do not offer privacy. Virtually anyone can go to the
courthouse and see what’s going on.
what happens when an individual dies without a valid will? In such
cases, the state government determines how your individually owned
assets are distributed. The courts also decide who becomes a legal
guardian of your minor kids. You may call it a “default
Generally, it is much better to die with a valid will, than having the fate of your estate decided by government bureaucrats. On the other hand, some wills are drafted so poorly that the heirs could be better off without one.
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