What is a last will and testament?

A last will and testament is a single legal document that specifies persons or charitable organizations that will be in possession of a person’s assets on his or her death. Historically, wills were means through which men without any heirs declared how their assets had to be disposed off after their death. The Greeks were the first ones to devise this legal document of bequest. Over time, the function of wills has remained the same. However, they are no longer applicable to just men without heirs, or to just the Greeks. Anyone and everyone can write their will.

It is advisable to draw up a last will and testament if you have significant wealth. A will is also crucial if, in case of you death, you want to hand over responsibility of your organization or want to assign guardianship of your children who are under the age 18 years. A will ensures that there are no conflicts between your relations with regards to the disposition of your property or responsibilities after your death. Having a last will and testament will prevent things from getting ugly between people related to you and also avoid encroachments on your assets.

You can write your own will if your requirements are straightforward. There are a number of templates and programs available online that can help you in drawing up your last will and testament. These templates are printable forms that simply require you to fill in the necessary details. However, make sure that you use templates and programs that follow the relevant laws of your state of residence. Although there is a common set of inheritance laws, every state can have it own set of laws that will differ from another state. For instance, the minimum number of witnesses required to sign your will in every state is two. However, there are some states that may require three witnesses. Also, only a few states permit handwritten last will and testament.

In the following cases, it is advisable to take the assistance of a lawyer to draw up your will:

  • There is a possibility of a lot of intricate details. For instance, you want to specify legally-binding conditions that will be required to be satisfied by the beneficiaries of your will.
  • Your assets are diverse spanning different geographical regions.
  • You think there is a possibility of your will being contested in the court.

A lawyer can provide expertise regarding the legalities of writing your last will and testament. Also, in case, dealing with legalese and state laws unnerves you, it is best to take the assistance of a lawyer.

Whether you are writing your own will or taking the legal assistance for the same, make sure that the execution of your will follows all legal requirements. Otherwise, your will may become invalid. Become familiar with the laws of your state and do not hesitate to consult a legal expert.