What Is A Will... Really?

 By: Melissa Gordon
Your will - otherwise known as your Last Will and Testament - is effectively your last word on this planet. It is what will be left when you have passed away, and its intention is to divide up your remaining material possessions amongst your loved ones in a fair and even manner so that disputes over such items can be avoided. Although this is the intention, there are so many recorded instances of wills being challenged in the courtroom and of disputes between the surviving friends and family of an individual that it is perhaps inaccurate to refer to it as such. What is a fact, though, is that making a will allows you to put your affairs in order and have one less worry in your final days.

Many people see to it that they have legal advice prior to, or in the course of, writing their will. This is by no means legally required, and if you are fully confident of your own ability to write and formalize a will without legal advice then you may do so. This can even have the advantage of being a clear and unambiguous statement of the testator's (testator being the legal term for the person making the will) wishes and intentions. But equally there are very clear reasons why having a lawyer look over your will would be a wise idea - by doing so you can make sure that what is in your will is legally sound and binding, and avoid untimely legal disputes after you have died.

Something that should never be forgotten about a will is that it is something that must stand alone. Once your will comes into effect - that is to say after you have died - you will be unable to explain any of the points within the will. Having someone legally minded read over the document is certainly advisable, as they will be able to pick out any potential areas of confusion and seek your clarification as well as advise you on how to tighten up the wording. If you are the only person who sees the text of the will prior to your death, however, your understanding of the words will die with you, and may leave open a loophole.

One thing that your will should specify is that on your death all of your debts should be paid by the executor of the will - the person who carries out the acts specified therein. It has been the case in the past that wills without this inclusion have seen the deceased's creditors bringing claims against the estate. This is not only something that one would wish to avoid for one's surviving family - a series of claims on the estate from unexpected sources is not what you want to hear while mourning - but enables such matters to be processed efficiently and without any extra cost. This simple consideration at the time that you sit down to write your will may well avoid additional heartbreak for those left behind after you have gone.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.
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