Will Preparation Northern Virginia
What exactly is a will? Can a married couple have one will? What happens to my minor child if I’m gone? What if the person I leave my property to predeceases me?
These are just a small sample of everyday concerns that many people have about wills. Hopefully we’ll be able to answer many of your questions about wills and the process of drafting, editing and executing a will as well as what happens when you’re gone.
However, every person’s situation is different and may raise a number of different legal issues so you should absolutely consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.
What is a Will?
A last will and testament is a document that states the testator’s desires for the disposition of their property (including tangible personal property, real estate, monetary assets, even intellectual property) following their death.
There can only be one testator per will, meaning that a couple cannot have one will that encompasses both of their desires.
The general outline of a standard simple will includes identification of the testator (“I Jon Snow, of Winterfell, being of sound mind and body, . . .“) and the intended beneficiaries. There is usually a section for the disposition of specific items or gifts such as specific cash gifts to an individual or charity, or gifts of personal property such as a favorite car, jewelry or other possessions.
The Residue of the Estate
Following the bequest of specific items, if any, is the all-important “residue” of the estate which, in normal terms, means everything else – the real estate, the monetary assets, stocks, bonds – essentially anything that the testator owned at the time of their death that isn’t specifically ear-marked to go to someone else.
It isn’t necessary that the will outline what constitutes the residue of the estate because it is entirely possible, if not likely, that the exact property owned by the testator at the time that the will was drafted will change by the time the testator is gone. It is sufficient to state that the residue of the estate is to be divided among the following, or that the residue of the estate is to go to the following individual or entity.
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