CHAPTER 7 Where There's a Will, There's Your Way!

In the preceding chapter, you learned about the many potential pitfalls of dying without a will or of relying on property titles to transfer your property for you. A logical solution is a properly drafted last will and testament (referred to hereafter as a will). In this chapter, we will discuss the basic structure of a will, along with advice on making key decisions concerning guardians, trustees, executors, and trusts.

What Is a Will?

A will is a legal declaration giving instructions as to what person(s) or organization(s) is to receive your property after your death. This declaration names the executor or personal representative who will be responsible for settling your estate, the trustee(s) responsible for managing any trusts you have created, and the guardian(s) who will care for your minor children.

Types of Wills

The concept of wills dates back to British law in the mid-1500s. Before that time, when a commoner died, part of his property automatically reverted to royalty. The Parliament passed a law establishing the Statute of Wills, which allowed these commoners to leave all of their property to whomever they chose under certain rules and guidelines.

Today, there are many types of wills. While it may be helpful for you to know that many varieties exist, you should definitely avoid some of them.

Oral, or Nuncupative, Will

Although most states require that wills be in writing, a few states do allow oral wills. Oral ...

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