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Last Wills and Testament Guide for Beginners - Why, What, and How

What is the Last will and testament?

The Last Wills and Testament is a legal document that tells who gets what and who will look after estate distribution to fulfill your wishes after your death. The Last Will is a document that describes how you would like your assets distributed after death. The Last Will is a legal agreement created by a sound mind individual (Testator or Grantor) that describes the main elements such as revocation, executors' duty, assets distribution methodology (i.e., complying with legal laws or based on belief), and signatory for witnesses, executors, and public notary. It also includes instructions for paying funeral or burial expenses, personal and business debts, obligatory religious debts, leaving money to charity, and making other arrangements. It may also include the declaration of testamentary bequest and the guardianship of minor children. Generally, the Last Will refers to a Will, Testament, Testamentary Will, Testamentary disposition, etc. The best practice of the Last Will is to comply with legal and the laws of your belief. All these minimum requirements must be met whether you are American, Australian, European, Canadian, or other.

Last Will is the most simple estate plan and is revocable until mental incapacity. It does not require to update for any property or investment changes. Ever individual should have Last Will or Pour-Over Will if you create Trust as a minimum to secure the estates. Not having estate plan can cost huge money after you die and inheritors suffer.

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Why should I create Last Will if it is not mandatory?

That's right; it is not mandatory by law in any country because it reflects your wishes about your assets and investments. The government does not interfere in making this compulsory. At the same time, most governments do not welcome someone to die without an estate plan because it adds lots of effort and administration costs that are only paid by the deceased's estate. So, be mindful of this grave situation regarding not securing wealth through estate planning. Not having an estate plan can be awful because your inheritors will struggle to access your assets and investments. So, considering it not mandatory does not resolve the issue. Everyone should consider creating an estate plan as soon as possible, and you can read many flags all over the internet and literature by an attorney and expert; why should you create estate plans?

Why should I make Last Will if I own nothing?

Even if you don’t have much money or property, it’s still a good idea to have the will to name an executor and make it clear who you want to make decisions with after you die. You do not know how wealthy you are going to be before death! Your money in the bank (even though it is one dollar), your belongings, and your vehicle (even though it is a scooter or bike) are all your assets. Legally, every dollar of credit or debt must be settled in either inheritance or payment of expenses. The only way you can settle your balance is through your Will and so, better to die with Will than no Will.

What are the main elements of Last Wills?

The Last will allow a testator to draft an agreement during a lifetime to distribute their estates after death in compliance with wishes, beliefs, and legal laws. The main elements in secular and general Will include below.

  1. Every last Will must include a revocation statement to prevent fraud.

  2. The last Will can include all the money, including cash, debit, investments, vehicles, and properties, whether movable or immovable. You do not list to each individually but can say, "All kinds and nature of assets."

  3. The testamentary bequest, which you can include in your Last Wills. You should consider consulting a tax specialist before deciding how much you want to include as part of the Testamentary Bequest.

  4. Assign inheritors who can be receiving estates. This may include spouse, children, parents, etc. If you want to create a faith-based solution, you should consult the respective service because that may require a very customized solution to meet your beliefs.

  5. Assign portion for minors under Guardianship.

  6. Assign two or more executors as part of your last Will. Wassiyyah observed people create Will with only one executor, which is not the right thing to do because your Will can expire when no executor is left to represent. More executors can give longer life to your Will.

  7. Two witnesses must be required to witness the Will. Notarization of the Last Will is strongly recommended even though it is not legally required in your country. The reason is that you do not know when the legal requirement changes to have notarization mandatory.

Can I write my own Will legally?

Yes, you should write or create your own Will. Then, you need to be converted it into a legally binding document by witnessing (with a minimum of two witnesses) and consider notarizing it with the public notary. Wording and clauses of the Will are critical. One or more mistakes or incorrect wording can make your Will a nightmare for inheritors during the probating process. So, it is strongly recommended to use a reputed online service or consult a lawyer for creating your Will.

What is the difference between faith-based Will and Secular Will?

Faith-based and Secular Will (or Conventional Will) are similar regarding executors' duty, appointing guardianship for children, paying off debts, and allocating money as charitable donations (i.e., Testamentary bequest). However, Faith-based Will differs mainly in the estate distribution scheme, which includes the spouse, Children or Grandchildren, and Parents or Grandparents as primary legal heirs. Secular Wills have a Spouse and Children as Primary heirs in most cases. There is no specific limit to Testamentary bequest under Secular Will, while It must not exceed a certain amount of total assets under a faith-based Will. The Secular Wills mentions fixed shares, which stay the same after the death of the Testator. The Secular Wills can be complicated, especially if you have a large family and multiple marriages with children and grandchildren.

What happens when a person dies without Last Will?

Die without Last Will is the most unfortunate situation an individual may face. Die without Will is generally dying "intestate" (or domestic law), meaning legal laws apply concerning the distribution of estates because the deceased did not leave a Will. The court will appoint an executor or trustee because of the absence of Wills. The court may find a relative of the deceased or someone else to look after the executor's duty or, in some cases, appoint Corporate Trustee. The court strongly prefers that the deceased must have a Will because it adds extra work for the court that was not intended. All of this means delays and expenses on the deceased end. Also, depending on the country's location, it may incur non-necessary administration expenses, wealth, inheritance, and estate taxes. Most importantly, it will not follow the wishes of your dream. If you want to distribute assets per your wishes, values, and faith, you should create Will accordingly. If you do not have Will, the court will decide who gets what, guardianship for children, and estate distribution. Not having a Will means it will incur substantial expenses and deal with estate distributions.

What should you know more about United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe?

Intestacy laws are complex in the USA, Canada, Australia, and part of Europe and vary from one jurisdiction (i.e., state, province, or territory) to another. In the UK, most jurisdictions apply rules of intestate succession to determine the next kin who becomes legal heirs to the estate. If a person dies with a Will, most jurisdictions strongly favor the decedent’s intentions as expressed in the Will, and When a person dies without leaving a Will, that person is considered to have died intestate. All countries have enacted statutes to deal with this situation. These statutes are called intestacy statutes, and the intestate decedent’s property is distributed according to the laws of descent outlined in these statutes. So, it will not follow your wishes and beliefs under the state of the interstate.

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What are Last Wills types?

There are many types and kinds of Will that you may create. The most common are holographic or written Will. Wassiyyah offers Single jurisdictional or Single country Will, Multi-Jurisdictional or Multi countries Wills (i.e., Separate will for each jurisdiction), and International Will. However, in general, many other kinds of Wills exist, such as holographic Wills, Written Wills, Expat Wills, Single Wills, Joint Wills, Mirror Wills, Testamentary Trust Wills, Formal Wills, Oral or Verbal Wills, or Nuncupative Wills, Deathbed Wills, etc.

What are Trust-based Wills?

You can create Testamentary Trust as part of your will, that Trust-based Will to look after minor children after death. Testamentary Trust and non-Testamentary Trust have three significant differences; First, Testamentary Trust is effective only after death. Second, it does not help minimize tax impact (inheritance, wealth, or estates); Third, they are always revocable.

How can I make changes to Last Wills?

Yes, you can update your Will anytime until you are mentally capable. You can update your Last Will by making an official alteration called a codicil. You must sign a codicil and get it witnessed in the same way as seeing a Will. For significant changes, you should make a Last will and destroy your old Will.

Who can be my Executor? And How many executors are needed for making Wills?

The Executor (or Executrix) will be carried out lots of paperwork after death and so needs to be a person, preferably your family member, relative, or friend. Suppose there is no one to appoint as an executor; in that case, you may hire professionals such as solicitors or accountants, bank representatives, or in some countries, a Public Trustee offers service to be the Executor of your Will. The professional services may charge fees, so it is good to ask them before appointing them as an Executor. It is unnecessary to appoint more than one Executor, although it is advisable to do so, for example, in case one dies. It is common to appoint two, but up to four executors can take on responsibility for administering the will after a death.



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