Last Will and Testament (Will)

A Last Will and Testament is a document that designates and Executor (or Personal Representative). This is the person who has the authority beyond a person’s lifetime to collect estate property, pay final expenses, file final tax returns, and distribute assets according to the terms of the will. It is important to note that a Last Will and Testament only controls estate property which is generally exlusive to assets that do not have a co-owner or a named beneficiary. In other words, a named co-owner an a bank account or a named beneficiary on property generally has superior rights to the assets vs. someone named in a will. A huge misconception is that a will helps a person avoid probate which is generally not the case. Nonetheless, the Last Will and Testament is an important legal document for the following reasons:

  1. A Will is generally used to designate an alternate guardian for a person who has minor children.
  2. A Will generally provides instructions for distributing a person’s personal effects (jewelry, artwork, electronics, furniture, etc.).
  3. A Will designates an executor to pay final expenses, file final tax returns, and distribute assets.
  4. A good Will generally waives any bond requirement for a Personal Representative.