What Is A Will
A will is a legal document that indicates how your estate will be distributed after you die. Wills are often prepared to give inheritances to spouses and loved ones. A will can be created to all your belongings, including your assets, money, properties and even personal belongings. The word will is often used interchangeably with the term Will & Testament. It is important to prepare a will because your family would have to go through a long and often expensive process of claiming your assets if you die without a will.
There are different kinds of wills, and each of them has unique features and conditions. However, what they all have in common is that they are prepared by an individual who wishes to divide up their estate among their surviving relatives after they die. You don’t necessarily have to will your belongings to relatives, as you can also will them to charities and organisations of your choice. A will can also be used to exclude certain individuals from receiving any inheritances.
Before you can create a will, you must be at least 18 years old and must be of a sound mind. Additionally, when creating a will, you have to appoint an executor who will be responsible for taking care of your remaining financial obligations. These financial obligations usually include your bills and taxes, as well as disposing of your property as you intended.
Definition Of Terms
There are a couple of words exclusively associated with wills and other relating legal documents. We will be discussing a few of them throughout this guide and so, here is a list of them and what they mean
Testator refers to the person creating the will. So when you meet up with your lawyer to prepare a will, you are the testator in that will.
The executor is the person you name in your will to take care of your properties and financial obligations. They will be charged with the responsibility for paying your bills and taxes, as well as disposing of your properties.
In certain situations, the administrator can also refer to the executor of your will. In other cases, like with a testament trust will, the administrator is responsible for controlling how assets are released to the beneficiary of the trust will.
The beneficiary in a will can refer to your wife, children, or any other relatives that you name in your will. They receive your inheritance after you pass on.
Your estate is the total of all your properties and assets.
Types Of Wills
There are different types of wills based on the number of testators as well as what happens to your property after you die.
A simple will is prepared for people who do not have complicated financial situations. As the name suggests, the simple will is the most straightforward kind of will, and it includes basic details like the name of the testator, address, marital statements, and so on. It will also appoint an executor for the testator’s estate, directions on how the estate is to be divided, and guardians for children under the age of 18. Because simple wills are straightforward, they can be written without a lawyer, although it’s always best to have an attorney look it over and check for any errors that can lead to difficulties later on.
Testament Trust Will
A testament trust will also lets you transfer your inheritance to an individual, but with a caveat. Instead of releasing the assets at once, testament trust wills dictate that the assets be released to the beneficiary gradually. The assets are put in a trust, and you select a beneficiary of the trust, as well as an administrator. The administrator will be in control of how the assets are released. You might want to set up a trust for your children or for an individual who is known to be a spendthrift. That way, they can manage the assets responsibly. The executor of your will and the administrator of the trust can be the same person if you want, but they don’t necessarily have to be.
A joint will is a single will created by two testators in which they leave their assets to each other. If one of the testators die, the assets are transferred to the other, and vice versa. The joint will also indicates how the estate is to be distributed when the second testator dies. Joint wills are incredibly powerful in that they cannot be changed, except with the consent of both parties. This means that if one of the testators die, the surviving testator cannot include or exclude individuals from the will. The joint will is very common among spouses.
Mirror wills are similar to joint wills in that they involve two parties, and they include the transference of assets from one individual to the other. However, unlike with a joint will, a mirror will is actually two separate wills created by two individuals. They are called mirror wills because they are exactly identical to each other, and they both contain the same instructions on how the estate is to be distributed. However, mirror wills are completely separate documents and are not bound to each other. They can be changed at any time, and either party is not obligated to inform the other of the change.
On Preparing A Will
Getting A Lawyer
You can draft uncomplicated wills like the simple will by yourself, and indicate how you wish your estate to be distributed. However, as mentioned earlier, it is always better to have an attorney look the document over. Basically, the simpler the instructions in the will are, the less likely it is that you need a lawyer. A simple will that involves leaving a home, distributing your money and assets, as well as appointing guardians does not require a lawyer. You will have to meet the other requirements involved in preparing a will like appointing an executor and having witnesses.
Handwriting Your Will
You can create your will by typing it out or by writing. Handwritten wills are only accepted if they are in the handwriting of the testator. Additionally, the will has to be witnessed and signed by two people. Ideally, these will be people who are not included in the will. Wills that are not witnessed are not legally acceptable.
On Contesting A Will
Wills can be contested by anyone who is considered to be an “interested party”. This means that the person falls under one or more of the following categories
- They are a beneficiary of a previous will
- They are a beneficiary of subsequent wills
- They are interstate heirs.
Additionally, before a will can be contested, the interested party must prove that they have standing. This means that they were either named in the will or stand to gain or lose something if the will is invalid. There are several reasons why a person might want to contest a will, including:
- If the will failed to meet the requirements of the will act
- If the testator is deemed to not be in a sound state of mind when the will was created
- If the testator did not know about or did not approve of the will
There are legal provisions that allow wills to be contested by interested parties. Also, as the testator, you cannot prevent your will from being contested after you die. There is no clause you can include in the will to prevent this kind of action. However, you can ensure that your will is defensible and accurately reflects your wishes.
As you can see, wills are powerful documents that can be useful to both you and your loved ones. Also, you don’t have to wait until you’re old to prepare a will, as it’s never too early to start learning about all the ways you can take care of your family and loved ones.