Last Will and Testament - What is it?
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
If you are reading this post, it is likely that you have heard of a "Last Will and Testament" or "Will." What I have learned during my years of practice is that, although most people have heard of a Will and "know" they should have one, they really do not know what it is or why they need it. This post and next week's post will answer both questions.
What is a Will?
Generally, a Will is a formal document that provides instructions on the desired disposition of your probate assets after your death. To put it simply, your Will is the roadmap your designated appointee (Personal Representative/Executor) will follow to properly distribute your probate assets after your death.
In order to be valid, its structure and execution must follow specific legal requirements. The requirements in the State of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and many other states are:
1) Must be written;
2) Must be signed by the person making the Will (Testator/Testatrix) in the presence of at least two (2) independent witnesses;
3) Must be attested (formally certified) and signed by at least two (2) independent Witnesses in front of each other and in front of the Testator/Testatrix.
For those of you with minor children, one of the most important aspect of a Will is that you will designate the guardian for your minor children in your Will. In doing so, you are putting the Court on notice regarding who you have chosen to care for your children. Absent unforeseen circumstances, the person/people designated in your Will to serve as guardian of your minor child(ren) will serve as legal guardian.
Stay tuned for next week's post: Last Will & Testament - Do I need one?