What Is a Will?

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What Does a Will Do?

A will is a legal document that spells out your wishes after your death, preventing that those wishes may not be carried out. You can take care of many things that would otherwise be decided by the court if you die intestate (without a will). For instance, you can determine the distribution of your property and the care of any minor children, among others. Read on to learn more about wills and if you have further questions, speak with an Orange County will attorney.

Why Do You Need a Will?

As mentioned above, a will is a legal document that spells out your wishes. By creating a will, you can, among other things, establish your property distribution, choose who will take care of your children, and save in taxes.

Types of Wills

There are numerous types of wills, such as:

Testamentary Wills

A testamentary will is a traditional will used to transfer an estate to beneficiaries after the death of the person who makes the will.

Holographic or Handwritten Wills

A holographic or handwritten will, as suggested by the name, is a will in which the signature, date, and material provisions are written by the hand of the testator.

Oral or Nuncupative Wills

An oral or nuncupative will is a will spoken to witnesses during sickness or right before death.

Pour-Over Wills

A pour-over will ensures any assets a grantor neglects to add to a trust, will end up in the trust after execution of the will.

Mutual Wills

A mutual will is made by at least two people, to bind each other into leaving their estate in a certain way.

Be aware that each will may vary in the formalities required to be created and to distribute assets. Choosing the adequate type of will according to your estate planning can be a game-changer, especially in preventing its challenge after your death.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will (intestate), a probate process will start, and your assets would be frozen and inaccessible to your heirs until the courts decide who will distribute them. Courts will follow state intestacy laws since your actual wishes remain unknown.

What Are the Legal Requirements of a Will?

The legal requirements of a will vary from state to state. The basic requirements to form a valid will are:

  1. Testator must be an adult with of “sound mind”;
  2. The will must be in writing (except in states that allows handwriting wills);
  3. Testator must sign the will in order to be valid (except if you are incapable to do so);
    But, before doing so, make sure and consult your Orange County estate planning lawyer in order to fully understand the legal requirements in your state.

How To Write a Will

As discussed, laws concerning wills vary by state, therefore, first step is to determine in which jurisdiction you are in in order to determine your state requirements to make a valid will. Thereafter, you should gather some information as such:

  1. Who will be the will executor of your will;
  2. What assets will be inserted under the will;
  3. What are the Debts and taxes liability that may be paid by the will;
  4. Who will be named as beneficiaries;
  5. Who will take care of your children;

Furthermore, keep your will updated and storage in a safe place. You should also let your loved ones know where the documents are and how to find them after your death to make probating the will easier.