Will FAQ

In order for a person's wishes to be upheld after they pass away, it is important to create a legally binding document regarding the estate. While some choose to create trust, wills are more common. For those considering creating a will, there are some key elements to remember before you begin. Although it is important for every adult to stipulate their wishes, over 70% of adults in America do not possess a valid will. For your own peace of mind as well as that of your family, it is highly recommended that you speak to a legal representative concerning creating a legal will. If you have any questions regarding last will and testaments, please read through the frequently asked questions below.

What are the requirements for creating a will?
As the requirements for wills are different depending on what state you live in, it is important to meet with a legal professional from your state when creating a will. They will be able to discuss your case as well as guarantee that your will is well-written and binding. One law that is upheld in most areas is that the writer of the will (the testator) must be of sound mind, meaning they have the mental capacity to understand their actions. The testator must also sign the will in their own handwriting. If they are for some reason unable to do so, they can allow another to sign in their place as long as witnesses are present.

Are there any limitations on a will?
A testator does have some restrictions on what they can and cannot write in their will. For example, there are some laws that bar disinheriting a husband or wife or children that are still dependent on the testator. However, if the spouse agreed to receive nothing in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, they may legally be left out of the will. If any surviving children were non-dependent, they can legally be disinherited. It is recommended that this is clearly stated in the will in order to avoid future confusion and conflict among the beneficiaries.

Is an executor of the will necessary?
An executor is a personal representative that assists with certain duties after the testator has passed on. Although this person is usually a relative, a close friend can also be chosen for this role. As there will be several responsibilities placed on their shoulders, the executor should be made aware of exactly what will be expected of them so that they can decide whether or not to accept the charge. An executor is a great benefit as they protect the deceased's property until it can be distributed to the beneficiaries. They will look into any taxes that are due on the estate as well as pay off outstanding debts. With this said, it is important that the testator find someone who is trustworthy and experienced in handling money and property.

What happens if there is no will?
If a family member dies without a will, the state will decide what to do with all of their property, assets, stocks, etc. In most cases, this will go directly to surviving children and the spouse. If there are not any surviving relatives, the entire estate will go to the state. Not only will this affect the deceased individual's finances, but it will affect any surviving dependent children. A will allows the testator to stipulate who will care for their children should they die, but without a will, the court will make this decision.

To learn more about your specific case and how to create a legally-binding will, talk to a knowledgeable probate attorney. They can review all the factors regarding your case and help create a will that cannot be challenged after your death. Take advantage of this tool and prepare for the future as soon as possible.