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Will Information

Should I Have a Will?

A Will is a legal document that instructs survivors on how to deal with your estate after your death. Any sound-minded adult is allowed to create a will.

Wills are not necessarily complicated documents to write, but most people will need some kind of help, either from a book, a computer program, or another person (such as a lawyer). In the U.S., some states allow what is called a "holographic will." This is a handwritten and unwitnessed will. Bear in mind that even in the states that allow such wills as legal documents, the holographic will must be written and signed by the person whose will it is. Some of these states additionally require that the document be signed. Having a holographic will is better than having no will at all, but having a witnessed will is definitely preferable. Signed, legal wills will be executed much more swiftly and exactly, whereas holographic wills spend a good deal of time in probate court, where judges will scrutinize the document to establish its legitimacy. (The longer your will remains in probate, the more it ends up costing before you can execute the will.)

Holographic wills can tend to be ambiguous since most people lack the knowledge of legal jargon the judicial system speaks in. When these wills are scrutinized in court, your instructions and desires can easily be misinterpreted so that your wishes are not strictly followed. This is why many people will seek assistance in completing their will. It is an important part of your legacy after your death, and is a document you want followed very precisely.

After you have completed the document, you must make sure it is legal. The finished will must be signed by witnesses who assert that you are of sound mind and under no undue influence in writing the will. Usually, these witnesses are not allowed to be inheritors in the will. While not always necessary, having your will notarized, doing so can smooth the court proceedings after your death so your inheritors can more quickly take control of your estate. It's important that your will is easy to access soon after your death. It should either be publicly recorded or stored in a safe, secure place that is known to the will's executor (the person in charge of enacting the wishes of your will and seeing that your affairs are concluded.)

It is highly unusual for a will to be challenged in court. However it does occasionally happen when a close relative feels that their share in the estate is unfair. The only way to have a will entirely thrown out in court and invalidated, it must be proven that the document is irreparably flawed in some way. Such flaws can include proof that your signature was forged, that you were not of sound mind when you wrote the will, or that you were under duress – that is, unduly influenced by someone else – when writing the will.

How to Create a Will.

Protect Your Children With a Will.

How Elaborate Should My Will Be?