What Are The Elements Of A Complete Will?

Your Will is one of the most important documents you’ll ever write. This crucial document details your final wishes and determines what is done with your possessions after your passing. In addition, a complete and comprehensive Will leaves no room for family disputes regarding the distribution of your assets.

Regardless of the size of your possessions, writing a Will is a critical responsibility no one should avoid. It’s also important to ensure that your Will abides by all state laws. The best way to maintain legal compliance while writing a Will is with the help of a qualified attorney. 

The Elements of a Complete Will 

Before writing a Will, you must follow certain criteria. That means you must be at least 18 years of age, of sound age, sign the Will without undue influence, and have testamentary capacity. 

In addition, you must mention your full legal name and marital status, along with information about your children. Finally, you must mention the guardian’s name if you have minor children. Without these elements, your Will may be incomplete, resulting in problems in the distribution of your assets after your passing. Other than that, there are some critical elements to know when learning about how to get a Will. Here are the nine most important elements to include in your Will.

1.Testator

The testator is the maker of a valid document that details their choices on how to distribute their possessions. A testator may write the Will with the help of a qualified attorney and must be over 18 years old and of sound mind. If a testator passes without creating a valid Will, they have died intestate. In such cases, their spouse or civil partner inherits all their personal property. 

2.Executor 

The executor of a Will performs every duty to ensure that the testator’s Will is fulfilled correctly. That includes administrative tasks and duties that carry out the testator’s wishes detailed in the Will. After the testator’s death, the executor handles all issues related to the property.

In addition, the executor applies for probate and pays off all due inheritance taxes. The testator may name up to four executors in their Will, each over 18 years old. An executor may also be named a beneficiary. 

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The testator must detail the executor’s full legal name and address in the Will to ensure they can be located at the right time. Most importantly, the executor must be someone the testator trusts greatly, such as their children or spouse.

3.Joint Executors

A testator may also appoint joint executors to administer their estate. As estate management can be a stressful responsibility, joint execution helps lighten the load. It’s crucial to ensure both executors have the testator’s best interest at heart while fulfilling your Will.

However, joint execution can result in conflicts over how to administer the estate most effectively or take action without each other’s approval. So, the testator must ensure the two executors are well acquainted and can work together without conflicts.

4.Beneficiary

The testator must name beneficiaries in their Will to detail who will receive their assets or estate after their passing. The beneficiaries may be charities and/or individuals. It’s important to detail the intended beneficiaries and what amount of the inheritance they will receive. 

Regardless of their relation to the testator, each beneficiary is entitled to know of their mention in the Will and what inheritance they have received. However, it’s worth noting that the executor must first apply for probate and transfer the assets to the beneficiary before the beneficiary can appraise, view, or receive the inheritance. 

5.Legacies and Bequests

The testator’s assets and gifts left for the beneficiaries are called legacies and bequests. There are various types of legacies and bequests. That includes specific, pecuniary, residuary, and contingent gifts. 

Any item named particularly in the Will is known as a specific gift. That includes jewelry, paintings, books, antiques, etc. Testators must describe such gifts so the beneficiary knows exactly what gift has been left in their inheritance. This gift must be part of the testator’s estate to be valid. 

Any monetary gift is known as a pecuniary or annuity if the Will demands it to be paid in installments. If the testator leaves a percentage of their estate to the beneficiary, it is a residuary gift. 

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6.The Remainder of an Estate

The remainder of the estate is the leftover assets after the administration of the state, gift distribution, and administrative payment by the executor. That includes assets, property, and cash leftover that wasn’t distributed in the Will. In cases where the testator forgets to mention something, the residual beneficiaries receive the remainder of the estate. Most commonly, testators intentionally leave most of their state out of their Will so a single person, the residuary beneficiary, receives it. 

7.Foreign Assets

If the testator has lived in or created their Will in a foreign country where they have assets, these assets are called foreign assets. It’s advised that the testator makes separate Wills for each country they have assets in to maintain legal compliance. If you live in the US and have assets in the UK, it’s best to have a separate US Will and UK Will. 

8.Underage Children

Testators cannot include children under 18 as beneficiaries of their inheritance. However, they may leave a gift for the child to remain in trust until they’re of age, according to the trust. This includes stepchildren, so it’s best to include all children to avoid confusion.

If the testator’s partner can no longer be a parent to their offspring, they may also assign a guardian for their underage children in their Will. If the testator doesn’t include such details, the court appoints a guardian for the child. 

9.Witness

To avoid fraudulent Wills, a witness testifies that they watched the testator sign their Will. Most countries require that a witness be independent, meaning they cannot be the testator’s spouse or family member, underage, or beneficiaries under the Will. It’s also essential that the witness is of sound mind and not blind or partially sighted.

Conclusion

Writing a Will comes with a significant amount of pressure, but it’s a responsibility everyone must fulfill. Therefore, you must include the right elements in your Will without revealing personal information about the beneficiaries and executors. Once the executor applies for probate, a Will becomes a public document. This helps ensure that the people named under the Will are protected and compensated according to the Will. 

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