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Wills and Estate Planning

Who Can Be an Executor?

While the executor is often an individual (a family member or trusted friend), an executor can also be a bank that has a trust department. Many banks will Read more...

How Do I Make Sure My Will Is Signed, Witnessed, and Valid?

Your last will and testament is not valid until the signing and witnessing requirements have been met. In most states, your signature and the signatures Read more...

How Should I Write a Will if I live in Two States?

If you live in two states, it’s recommended that you obtain specific information about both states by consulting with an estate planning attorney. Read more...

What Is the Difference Between a Legal Will and an Estate Plan?

It’s important to keep in mind that a last will is a part of an estate plan, not an entire estate plan. In additions to a will, a more complete Read more...

I’m an Executor, What Do I Need to Do?

Handling a will can be tough, if you’ve been given the responsibility we’ve compiled a checklist to help make things a bit easier.   Read more...

How Does the State Commonly Divide an Estate Without a Will?

While there's no clear way to predict how the state will divide property, bank accounts, and other assets, there are a few common outcomes: The estate Read more...

What Are the Requirements of the Witness or Notary When I Sign My Will?

The witness or notary must be at least the age of 18 but cannot be: family (by blood, adoption, or marriage) listed in your last will and testament as a Read more...

How Do I Prepare a New Will if I Want to Change My Current Will?

If you wish to make a lot of changes, or a few major ones, it’s probably best to prepare a new will. You’ll want to include a formal statement Read more...

What Are Common Strategies to Contest a Will?

A common strategy to declare a will invalid is to argue that the decedent was not of sound mind and was unable to understand what he or she was doing when Read more...

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

Those who pass away without making a valid will are referred to as being intestate. In such situations, state law controls who will receive your property. Read more...

Why Should I Write a Will?

A last will and testament allows you to achieve many objectives. You can state how your property should be divided, provide for your loved ones and Read more...

What Is a Specific Bequest?

A specific bequest is a gift (bequest) or a specific item (or asset) to a named person or entity. Specific bequests are usually made at the beginning of a Read more...

What Factors Should I Consider When Naming My Spouse as My Beneficiary?

Here are some factors to consider when naming my spouse as my beneficiary: The possibility that your spouse’s needs will increase in the future The Read more...

How Do I Avoid My Last Will from Being Contested By My Heirs?

You may need to get a doctor's note to prove that you were of sound mind when you wrote and signed your will. This will help reduce the chances of Read more...

Who Should Be My Agent for My Will?

It’s important that the person that you designate as your agent is someone you know and trust. You should not designate a person who is, or may Read more...

What Is a Vesting Deed?

What Is a Vesting Deed? A vesting deed is generally a part of ahttps://www.rocketlawyer.com/form/warranty-deed.rl. The "vesting term" refers to Read more...

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will Before My Death?

If you fail to write a will before your death, the distribution of your estate will be decided by state law or by the courts. Read more...

Why Do I Need a Living Will?

A living will states your wishes regarding life support in the event that you cannot communicate your end-of-life wishes yourself, spares your family the Read more...

Which Will Is Right for Me?

If you’re ready to get started with your will, a last will and testament may be enough to meet your needs. If you’re remarried, or want to Read more...

What Happens to My Old Living Will When I Make a New One?

New documents will generally supersede old ones. In other words, executing a new living will has the power to revoke a prior living will. Read more...

Should I Amend My Living Will if I Move to a New State?

If you move to a new state, it’s recommended that you complete a new living will for the new state. Even if your prior document might be valid in Read more...

Do States Recognize Out-of-State Living Wills?

It depends. States recognize out-of-state living wills as long as the living will complies with the laws of the state where it was signed or the Read more...

What Are Some Laws Governing Wills That May Differ from State to State?

Some laws that may differ state to state are: Who can make a last will Witness requirements Who may be a witness Procedures for executing a will Read more...

Do States Dictate Your Will?

No. States don’t dictate who can benefit from your legal will or how your assets must be divided among heirs. However, your will must be compliant Read more...

Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Living Will?

Though you don’t need a lawyer to make a living will, a legal expert can help ensure the provisions in your living will properly spell out exactly Read more...

What Is Mental Competence Requirement to Writing Will?

Being mentally competent means that you’re aware that you are executing a last will and are familiar with your property as well as your family and Read more...

What Is Considered the Legal Age to Write a Will?

Legal age varies by state: In 48 states, a will-maker must be at least 18 years of age. In Louisiana, you can make a will at the age of 16. In Georgia, Read more...

How Do I Provide for My Children In My Will?

You may wish to create a minor children’s trust to provide for the possibility that your spouse will not survive your death, or to provide for the Read more...

Why Can’t a Beneficiary be a Witness When Signing a Will?

Some states have adopted these laws to prevent any conflict of interest from those who may be in line for gifts, or who may benefit from your death. While Read more...

Are There Any Requirements for the Witnesses When Signing a Will?

The witnesses must be mentally competent when they sign the will. In most states, they must meet a minimum age requirement of at least 18 years old. Some Read more...

What Are the Requirements When Signing and Witnessing a Will?

Your signature to your last will must be witnessed by two other people, who must also sign the will. Read more...

Why Should I Name a Guardian for My Children In My Will?

Naming a guardian in your last will and testament helps ensure that your preferred choice is appointed for your children. Read more...

What Are Some Good Tips On Choosing Your Will Executor?

Of course, there are many variables to consider but your will executor should typically be organized since they’ll be handling a lot of sensitive Read more...

Are There Any Restrictions On Who May Serve As an Executor?

Yes. Many states will only appoint individuals who are residents of the same state. If you want to select a non-resident executor, contact your county Read more...

What Is a Will Executor?

An "executor" is someone who’ll carry out your final wishes after your death but in some states, this person is known as a "personal Read more...

Why Don’t Physicians Have to Follow a Living Will?

In most cases, proper patient care, ethical obligations, and/or the physician’s personal or religious beliefs override the living will. Read more...

Do Doctors Have to Follow a Living Will?

No, physicians aren’t required to follow the directives of a living will.   Read more...

What Is a “No-Contest” Clause In a Will?

A “no-contest” clause effectively states that anyone who unsuccessfully contests the will receives nothing. Read more...

How Are Assets Distributed in Intestacy?

Generally, intestate distribution follows family lines (first to the spouse, then to the children, and so on). Read more...

How Do I Contest a Will or Declare It Invalid?

A disappointed relative, who feels that he or she did not get a “fair share” of the estate, may try to have the last will and testament Read more...

What Does My Last Will Not Control?

Your last will doesn’t control the distribution of your life insurance, retirement plans, and trusts. Basically, your last won’t control the Read more...

What Is the Purpose of a Last Will and Testament?

The primary purpose for having a last will and testament is to specify the person(s), called “a beneficiary” (or “beneficiaries”), Read more...

How Much Power Does an Agent Have Over My Will?

Many individuals give their healthcare agents broad authority to override their written living will while other individuals give the written living will Read more...

What Assets Are Not Affected By a Last Will and Testament?

Assets that are not typically affected by last wills include: Life insurance Annuities Retirement plans Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) Joint Read more...

Are There Certain Assets Unaffected By a Will?

Yes. Some of your assets may not be covered by the provisions of your last will.   Read more...

What Is a Letter of Testamentary?

What Is a Letter of Testamentary? A Letter of Testamentary, sometimes called a “letter of administration” or “letter of representation, Read more...

What Can I Designate With a Last Will and Testament?

When you create a last will, you'll be able to designate: The persons or organizations that will receive your property after your death The Read more...

Who Should Create a Living Will?

Any person over age 18 may (and should) create a living will. Here are some common reasons why people create a living will: Declining health To designate Read more...

What Is the Difference Between a Living Will and a Last Will & Testament?

A last will and testament dictates the way that that your assets will be distributed and utilized following your death. Most other posthumous decisions Read more...

What Are the Benefits of Keeping My Will Up to Date?

Keeping your will up to date ensures that your wishes will be carried out in the event of your death. It can also allow your beneficiaries to avoid Read more...

When Should I Review or Update My Last Will?

There are some factors that may require you to review or update your last will: Moving to another state Change in marital status Birth of a child Adoption Read more...

Why Should I Keep My Will Up to Date?

Your last will and testament that you created 10 years ago may not be sufficient today. Aside from new life events, many laws may change within a decade Read more...

Can I Select More Than One Guardian?

Co-guardians are permitted in most cases. Read more...

Are Guardians Paid?

A guardian named in a will is not paid for their services.   Read more...

How Do I Change a Will After It’s Been Signed?

You have two options: either create a “codicil” to your will or create a new last will and testament.   Read more...

Can I Appoint More Than One Executor?

You can choose two or more executors who will serve together as co-executors, so they can help each other with the finances and paperwork. It may be a Read more...

What Are the Requirements of an Agent of a Will?

The statutes of most states require that your agent be an adult. Also, under most circumstances, your agent cannot be your health care provider (e.g., a Read more...

What Is an Agent for a Living Will?

Your agent in your living will, or healthcare power of attorney, has the power to make life-support decisions for you when you become unable to make Read more...

Should My Living Will Be Very Specific or Very General?

Though living wills can be very specific or very general, living Wills that are too general may not provide sufficient direction and serve only to create Read more...

When Is a Living Will Effective?

Your living will is only effective when you’re no longer able to make and communicate your own wishes.   For example, if you suffer a stroke or Read more...

When Do Individuals Use Living Wills?

In general, individuals use living wills to indicate whether they want certain medical treatment withheld or withdrawn in order to allow a more natural Read more...

What Is a Living Will?

A living will is a document which states your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment in the event that you have a terminal illness and are expected to Read more...

What Factors Will Determine How My Loved One’s Estate Will Be Handled?

Marital status, state of residency, existence of children, debts, and other factors are involved in determining how your loved one's estate will be Read more...

What Happens if My Loved One Dies Without a Will?

If your loved ones dies intestate (without a last will and testament), his or her property and assets may not be divided according to his or her wishes Read more...

What Is a Residuary Bequest?

A residuary bequest is a gift (bequest) of all or a portion of the remaining assets after making distributions of specific bequests. For example, Read more...

What Are the Types of Bequests or Gifts in a Will?

Gifts, or bequests, made at the time of death come in two types: specific bequests or residuary bequests (whether through a last will and testament or a Read more...

What Happens to My Last Will and Testament if I Move Out of State?

Be sure to update your will to be certain that it’s compliant with the last will and testament laws of your new state of residence. You can always Read more...

Are Last Wills and Testaments State Specific?

Yes. Laws governing last will and testament documents vary from state to state. It’s important that your last will and testament is specifically Read more...

Who Should I Provide a Copy of My Living Will to?

After your living will is signed and witnessed or notarized, provide one copy each to your primary agent, your secondary agent, your doctor, and your Read more...

How Do I Properly Sign and Distribute My Living Will?

You must sign your living will in the presence of a witness or notary who must also sign the document. Read more...

What Are the Requirements for Writing a Will?

Anyone of legal age, sound mind, and Mental competence can make a last will and testament. Read more...

How Do I Include a Minor Child’s Trust in My Will?

A minor children’s trust is included as part of your last will. Or if you use a living trust arrangement instead of a will, it can be included as Read more...

How Do I Make Sure My Religious Beliefs Are Observed at My Death?

If you have any concerns of receiving the religious and spiritual support that you need and desire at the end of your life, you should include these Read more...

What Does a Comprehensive Estate Plan Consist of Other Than a Will?

A comprehensive estate plan controls your assets and health decisions. It contains much more than just your last will and testament.   It should Read more...

What Happens to My Old Living Will if I Make a New One?

Remember that new documents will generally supersede old ones. In other words, executing a new living will has the effect of revoking a prior living will. Read more...

What Are Some Good Tips on Choosing a Guardian?

Family members or trusted friends are good options. You should choose a guardian who has good parenting skills and values similar to your own. Read more...

Is My Guardian Choice Refutable?

Technically, your guardian choice is just a recommendation to the court. However, state laws give high priority to your recommendation. The court will Read more...

Is a Guardian Legally Obligated to Serve if I Ask?

No, a guardian isn’t legally obligated to serve so an alternate choice is recommended in case your first choice refuses or is unable to serve. Also, Read more...

What Is a Guardian Not Responsible for?

The guardian is not responsible to meet the child's financial needs with his or her own money. Instead, a trustee often handles those arrangements Read more...

What Is a Guardian Responsible for?

A guardian is legally responsible for the children’s basic needs, physical care, health, education, and welfare until they reach 18 years of age. Read more...

Can Certain Life Events Revoke Provisions In My Last Will?

Yes. In some states, a divorce has the effect of revoking those provisions in your last will that relate to your former spouse. Read more...

What Should I Do After I Change My Will?

If you decide to change the provisions in your last will and testament, be sure to notify your family and attorney. Although they may not need to know the Read more...

How Do I Properly Sign a Codicil?

The codicil must be signed with the same signing formalities as the original will. Be sure to keep your original will. Your "will" is now your Read more...

What Is a Codicil?

A codicil can be used to make minor revisions without changing the entire last will. It’s simply a document that starts with a reference to your Read more...

How Can I Make My Executor’s Job Easier?

Here are some ways to make your executor’s job easier: Organize your records Print out this executor checklist to provide an overview of the process Read more...

How Do I Avoid a Bond?

Most jurisdictions require that the executor post a bond to protect the assets of the estate. To avoid the expense of the bond, you can request in your Read more...

How Do I Get My Executor Approved From a Probate Court?

Although the probate court is not strictly obligated to do so, it will generally appoint your choice of executor.   When appointing the executor, the Read more...

What Are the Primary Duties of a Will Executor?

The primary duties of an executor are to collect assets, pay debts and expenses, and distribute remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Read more...

Does a Living Will Affect My Insurance Premiums?

No. Insurance companies cannot adjust their rates based upon the presence or absence of a living will. It’s illegal for anyone to require a living Read more...

What Happens if There Is a Conflict Between My Living Will and My Doctor's Obligations?

The physician must tell the patient about any conflicts with the living will as soon as the patient provides a copy of the living will to the physician. Read more...

Is There a Way to Discourage Challenges to My Will?

Yes. Some states allow last wills to include a “no-contest” clause. Read more...

What Happens If a Will Is Declared Invalid?

If a will is declared invalid, the assets in question fall into intestate (without a last will and testament). If this happens, state law determines how Read more...

Who Are Typically the Beneficiaries of a Will?

The beneficiaries are often family members and friends. However, they can also be charitable organizations, trusts, or whomever the individual wishes to Read more...

What Are Some Tips When Choosing an Agent for My Will?

Good healthcare agents are able to separate their own feelings from yours and your wishes but naturally, they may feel guilt and anguish at having to make Read more...

Are There Other Names for an Agent of a Will?

Some states refer to the agent as an "attorney-in-fact," "health care agent," "health care proxy," "health care Read more...

How do I distribute Assets Not Typically Covered By a Will?

It’s important that you complete a beneficiary designation form to address how these assets will be distributed on a case-by-case basis. These Read more...

What Are the Duties of an Executor?

What Is a Will Executor? An executor is the person you designate to carry out your wishes after your death, as per the provisions in your last will and Read more...

What Are the Tax Consequences of a Living Trust?

What Are the Income Tax Consequences of a Living Trust? Irrevocable Trusts: When the grantor or the grantor’s spouse is the trustee or co-trustee of Read more...

What to Do I Do If I Suspect Financial Abuse of an Elderly Person?

What Is Financial Abuse of an Elderly Person? Financial abuse of an elder is the illegal or improper use of a senior’s money, property, or assets. Read more...