A Last Will and Testament is a written document signed by a person at least eighteen (18) years of age and of sound mind wherein directions for the distribution of property are given upon the person’s death. The Last Will and Testament may also appoint guardians of the estates of minors who receive property under the Last Will and Testament.
Should everyone have a Last Will and Testament?
Yes. Generally, for young married persons, it serves to dispose of their property and to appoint proper persons as the guardians of minor children and their inherited estates. For the middle-aged, it provides a plan of distribution for their dependents by benefiting those with the greatest need and conserving their property for their spouse and/or children. For the elderly, it directs distributions which benefit spouse, children, grandchildren, and charities.
What happens if I have no Last Will and Testament at my death?
State law determines the appointment of a personal representative and the distribution of property by designating the heirs and their share of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative is the person responsible for filing necessary documents to administer the decedent’s estate, and for making sure all their debts are paid and their assets are distributed to the heirs. The law also determines who receives property from the estate.
When does a Last Will and Testament become enforceable?
A Last Will and Testament
Does the law require the signature of the Testator to be witnessed at the time of signing?
The law varies from state to state. In Pennsylvania, it is not required, but you should do it anyway. To prove a will is valid when there are no witness signatures, two individuals must appear at the Registrar’s office and swear under oath that the signature on the Last Will and Testament belongs to the decedent. A self-proving Last Will and Testament eliminates the need for the witnesses appearing at the Register’s office. Last Will and Testaments can be made self-proven if proper acknowledgments and affidavits are signed by the testator and witnesses at the time of execution.
What property passes by Last Will and Testament?
Property owned solely in the name of the decedent passes by Last Will and Testament. Property owned by the entireties (spouses), jointly or in trust
Is there any limitation on the validity of a Last Will and Testament?
No. A Last Will and Testament
If the original Last Will and Testament cannot be found, the assumption according to most states’ laws is that the testator destroyed it, and therefore revoked the Last Will and Testament. If a copy of the original exists, then it can be probated if it is proved that the copy is accurate, that the original had been validly executed, and that the testator did not intentionally destroy their original Last Will and Testament. If an attorney prepared the Last Will and Testament, their testimony could provide much of the necessary proof.