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What Is a Will? Definition, Uses and Importance.

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A document that directs the disposition of a person’s property upon death. A will is a legal document that coordinates the distribution of assets after death. A will can appoint guardians for minor children and also designate beneficiaries and executors of the estate.

Should you have a will?

A will is important to have, as it allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely so that there is no confusion about what happens with an estate after someone passes away.

Different types of wills

There are other types of wills which include holographic wills, which are handwritten, and oral wills. Holographic wills are also called “nuncupative”—and are not valid in many states. Based on your individual circumstances an estate planning attorney can guide you on which will is the best fit for you.

The most common type of will

Attested Written Wills are the same as simple wills and are the most common type of will. An attested written will is typed and printed, then signed by the testator and two witnesses.

What makes a will valid?

At least two witnesses must either see firsthand the testator signing the document or hear the declaration of the will.

What happens if you lose an orginal will?

If a will is lost your personal representative or executor may need to prove to the court that the will actually existed and is valid. The burden of proof to show it is real is on the proponent of the will. A proponent of a will is defined as the person presenting the will and must show that it is valid.

Lifespan of a will

A will is valid for the lifetime of the testator but practitioners usually recommend that your will be reviewed and updated after big life changes like marriage or the birth or death of the loved one. Changes in assets or net worth may also warrant the updating of a will to account for all assets.

History of wills

The first use of the Will as we know it can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. These documents were used to transfer possessions between deceased male citizens and their heirs. Wills were most commonly used by citizens without children or relatives.

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