The last will or last will and testament is an estate planning document that most people have heard about. In the past, the last will was used to transfer real property, and the testament was a document that was utilized to transfer personal property. These days, the last will is typically used to transfer both types of property.
Before we look at the formal requirements for a valid last will, we should point out the fact that you have other asset transfer options when you are planning your estate. A last will can seem like the only logical choice if you are not wealthy, but in fact, there are trusts that can provide benefits for people who are of relatively ordinary means.
When you use a will to transfer assets, you would name an executor. After your passing, the executor would admit the will to probate. This is a legal process, and it takes place under the supervision of a court.
You may be surprised when you hear that your surviving family members must wait out the probate process before they can receive their inheritances. If there are no snags and everything runs smoothly, the best-case time frame scenario would be perhaps nine months to a year.
In addition to the time lag, there are other drawbacks. One of them is the matter of money. Probate is not free, and the expenses that accumulate during probate reduce the value of the estate that is going to be passed along to the heirs.
It would be possible to create a revocable living trust as your primary vehicle of asset transfer instead of a will. If you go this route, the trustee could distribute assets in a more timely manner outside of probate after your passing.
Last Will Requirements
The person who is creating a last will is called the testator. In order for a last will to be valid in the state of California, the testator must be an adult in the eyes of the law. Plus, the testator must be of sound mind, and there can be no coercion involved in the signing of the document.
Two competent adults must witness the testator sign the last will, and the witnesses must sign the document as well. There is no requirement with regard to notarization.
Free Report on Last Wills
If you would like to obtain more detailed information about last wills, we have a valuable resource that you can access through this website.
Our firm has prepared a free special report on last wills, and this report will answer your questions and provide you with insight.
To get your copy of the report, visit this page and follow the simple instructions: Understanding Last Wills.
Latest posts by Litherland, Kennedy & Associates, APC, Attorneys at Law (see all)
- Litherland, Kennedy & Associates Law Firm Team Joins 2019 Walk to End Alzheimer’s - August 19, 2019
- American Academy Awards Fellow Designation to Justin M. Kennedy – Kennedy Recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Experience and Service - August 16, 2019
- Clarity is Key to Planning - August 14, 2019