What is a Last Will and Testament?

By January 21, 2017 Estate Planning
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Frequently Asked Questions About Wills In Reno, NV

What is a Last Will and Testament?

The term “Last Will and Testament” is the legal document used to communicate your final wishes. These wishes usually pertain to two issues: the person(s) you want to receive your property after your death, and if you have young children, the person(s) you want to raise them after you’re gone. A third common issue is to appoint the person who you want to be in charge of your estate and carrying out the instructions of your will, otherwise known as the executor or personal representative.”

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a leaving a Will, your money and other property will go through the probate process and ultimately get distributed according to the “laws of intestate succession.” These laws divide all your property between your closest family members according to a set formula and completely exclude friends, charities, and more distant family members.

These laws may not reflect your wishes for who should get what property after your death. If you are married and have no children, Nevada law may require your spouse to share your property with your parents. If you are unmarried, then your partner will receive nothing.

Perhaps more importantly, the laws of intestate succession do not deal with the question of who will take care of your minor children if both parents die or the surviving parent is unavailable. This leaves it up the court and social services to appoint a guardian without any input from you.

What happens if I have a Will?

With a Will, your estate will still go through the probate process, but instead of following the laws of intestate succession, the judge in Probate Court will follow your Will. This means that your wishes will control the distribution of property and appointment of guardians for your children, not a set of predetermined rules or the discretion of a judge.

How is a Will created?

A will is created in Nevada by following the strict guidelines provided in Chapter 133 of the Nevada Revised Statutes. These requirements are strictly enforced and any will that does not comply perfectly is not considered valid. In general, a Will must be in writing, signed by the person creating it (called the “Testator”), and witnessed by two other people. These two witness must also sign the Will in the presence of the Testator.

For step-by-step instructions, read How to Make a Will.

Do I need to have a minimum amount of assets to create a Will?

No. You should have a will whether you are worth $1 or $1 million, and especially if you have kids. The guardianship issue of dying without a will should be reason enough for every parent to get a will. Of course, the more wealth that you have, the more important it is to use more sophisticated estate planning tools than just a Will.

Where is the best place to store a Will?

Your Will should be easy to locate after your death. Store your Will in a fireproof metal box, cabinet, or safe. Do not store your Will in a bank safety deposit box. Your bank will limit access to your safety deposit box won’t allow anyone to access it without a court order. Make sure the person you appoint as personal representative knows where your original will is kept. A will that cannot be found has no effect.

Get Help with Your Will

If you are looking for help in drafting or executing a last will and testament, contact us today to set up an appointment with our Reno estate planning attorney.