What is a will?
A will or a “last will and testament” is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. These individuals or charities are commonly referred to as beneficiaries of your last will. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main goal of a will is to carry out the testator’s final wishes.
A will tells the probate court how you want your property distributed after you die, and who has the power and responsibility to wrap up your affairs. Through the probate process the court will give the executor of your will the authority to gather all of your property, pay any remaining creditors’ bills and distribute your remaining property as you specify in your will.
Because the will takes effect only after a court has determined that it is a valid document, a judge must act before your executor can step in and manage your estate.
There are generally four basic requirements for a will to be considered legal:
- It must be in writing (either handwritten or typed).
- It must be signed by the person making the will (called the testator).
- It must have two witnesses who witness the signing of the will by the testator and each other.
- The person making the will must be at least 18 years of age.
Important reasons to have a last will and testament:
- Appoint someone to settle affairs.
This person will also ensure that your beneficiaries receive their inheritance.
- Choose who will receive your property.
Specify how you would like to transfer your property to your heirs.
- Decide who you want to raise your children.
Name the right legal guardians for your children if you and your spouse can’t be there.
Any person can write their own will; however, it is recommended to work with an attorney in order to ensure that the will holds up in a court of law. Stop by The Law Office of Justin M. Gilbert in Brentwood, Tennessee for a consultation about the formulation of your will. Let us help you clarify your goals and purposes and establish a will that is effective.