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Knowing the features of a will is a great guide to understand how to write one. Before going into the process of writing a Will, it is essential to understand the two things first 1. What is a will and 2. What does it protect?

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that holds authority over probate assets of an individual. It is view simply by most people as a plain document, but this plain document contains powers big enough to shift fortunes between people and even corporations. In the book “The Rockwills Guide to Succession and Trusts in Wealth Management” the author gives a lot of examples involving disputes and cases that shift millions of dollars between individuals all because of a few statements on a dead person’s Will.

What does it protect?

A Will protects the interests of its maker also known as the testator or Willmaker. It protects the desire of the testator with regards to who gets what in his or her property. Without a will, a person’s estate will be distributed according to the government’s abiding through an act called Intestacy Act. When a person dies without a will, he or she is referred to as an “Intestate”.

Important Features of A Will

  • A Will can only take effect when the testator dies. Which means that the gifts stated inside a will can only be distributed only upon the testator’s death.
  • The properties stated in a Will are still the testator’s property until he or she dies.
  • Ademption occurs when a property stated in a will is sold before the testator’s death causing the beneficiary of the supposed gift to receive nothing.
  • A testator can make specific gifts and general legacies that are not specified in an estate’s assets.
  • Non-probate assets are not under the power of a will, so cash to be received from health insurances are not included in a Will’s control even if the testator mentions it in his or her Will.
  • Assets inside a Trust are not under the power of a Will since it is non-probate.
  • Arrangement for the maintenance of pets and animals can be made in a Will.
  • A testator can make changes to a Will if he or she so wishes during the time that he or she is living.
  • A Will can be revoked by a later Will.
  • The date of a will is very important since later Wills have the power to revoke all previously made Wills.
  • Testamentary trusts require the power of a Will.
  • A Will appoints executor or executor who oversees the whole distribution of a testator’s asset according to the will. This executor is known as the “executor or a will”.
  • Guardians of minors can be appointed in a Will.

Anatomy of A Will

After knowing the features of a will, it is also important to know that in writing a will one has to be informed of the of eight parts it is composed of, and the role each part in distributing a person’s probate assets.

  • The opening paragraph – this states the identity of the testator, a statement declaring that it’s the last will of the testator and another statement to revoke all prior wills made.
  • Appointment of executors and trustees – this states who will be entrusted to carry out the contents of the will. It also states the substitutes should the executor decline or perishes.
  • Payments or liabilities – this deals with the debts, taxes and executorship as well as testamentary and funeral expenses.
  • Gifts and Distributions to Beneficiaries – this is comprised or specific gifts or movable or immovable properties, general legacies and residuary estate.
  • Testamentary Trusts – this deals with properties inside a testamentary trust.
  • Guardianship – if a testator has minor children then custody of such children will be stated in the will.
  • Commorientes Clause – This statement avoids gifts falling in the estates if beneficiaries who die within a short time of the passing of the testator.
  • Closing paragraph – this consists of the date, signature of the testator and witnessing clauses.

Wills and all the features of a will protect a testator’s assets in the event of death from natural causes or unforeseen disasters. It is and will be aimed at fulfilling what a person intends to happen to his or her state and how his or her loved ones will be provided.