A Will is a written instrument containing directions on how your assets and property are distributed upon death. Wills can also contain instructions regarding the care of minor children, gifts to charity, and formation of posthumous trusts. In order for a Will to be legally valid, the individual must sign the Will in the presence of two witnesses. He or she must be mentally competent and not acting under duress or under the controlling influence of another.
It is advisable for adults of all ages and means to have a Will. If you do not have a Will, the government has one for you and will make decisions such as:
- Who becomes the guardian/conservator of your minor children
- Who gets your property (your spouse does not “automatically” get all of your property)
- How your heirs receive your property
- When your heirs receive your property
Even adults without families need a Will. Without a Will, your wishes as to who will receive your property upon your death are irrelevant, as the government will decide who receives your assets.
Always keep your Will up to date and renew it after any of the following:
- Marriage or divorce
- Birth or adoption
- Death of a Beneficiary or Executor
- You move to another state
- You change your mind about the provisions of your Will