Last Will and Testament
Estate planning professionals suggest any person over the age of 18 years old should at least have a last will and testament for their estate planning needs. A will, or often referred to as a last will and testament, is a legal document that provides instructions for what should happen to a person’s assets after his or her death. The term “last will and testament” is commonly used to mean the same thing as a “will”, but to be exact, a last will and testament refers to the most recent version of a will. A will is commonly used to distribute a personal property, real estate, investments or business interests. It may also be used to appoint legal guardians for minors or people with special needs. If a person dies without a will, they are said to be intestate, and state intestacy laws govern the distribution of the property of the person who passed.
Can a person write their own Last Will and Testament?
The simple answer to that question is yes. A person can draft their own valid Last Will and Testament, but we suggest you seek the assistance of a legal professional. If you would prefer to draft your own will, you will want to make sure that it meets the validity requirements for the state you are a resident of. As an example, here are some of California’s Last Will and Testament requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be of sound mind
- You must make your will freely and voluntarily
- Your will must exists in a physical written or printed form
- You must sign your will in the presence of two or more competent and disinterested witnesses, who also sign the will or last will and testament at the same time
A will is just one way of handling estate planning. In some cases a trust or living trust may be a better option for you since it can allow your beneficiaries / heirs to avoid the probate process. If you are trying to decide how to provide for the distribution of your assets or care of your children after you die or need legal assistance, you should contact a lawyer for guidance.