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Formswift: Get peace of mind with our last will and testament template

Establish your final wishes, secure the distribution of your assets, and designate guardians for your children with a last will and testament. Don't wait another day—take control of your estate and leave a lasting legacy.

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What is a last will and testament?

A last will and testament is a legal document setting out your final wishes—serving as a guiding light for your loved ones.

It covers the distribution of your assets, the care of any dependents, and the appointment of a personal representative or executor to carry out your instructions.

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Why use a last will and testament?

Creating a last will and testament ensures your loved ones have clarity and direction during a challenging time. By taking this proactive step, you:

Distribute assets

Ensure your assets are distributed according to your exact wishes, leaving no room for uncertainty or speculation.

Appoint an executor

Appoint a trusted and capable executor who will diligently oversee the administration of your estate and personal property, ensuring your wishes are faithfully executed.

Name guardians

Name guardians for your minor children to protect their well-being and ensure they’re cared for by individuals you trust.

Provide clarity

Minimize the potential for conflicts and disputes among family members, providing a clear roadmap for asset distribution.

Simplify the process

Simplify the probate process for your loved ones, saving them from unnecessary stress, delays, and legal complexities.

When to use a last will and testament

Regardless of your age or the size of your estate, having a last will and testament is crucial. It’s especially important to have one in the following situations.

Especially minor children, who rely on your guidance and support.

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If you have specific wishes and preferences for how your assets, real estate, and personal property should be distributed, a last will and testament can safeguard your legacy to make sure it reflects your values.

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Conflicts and disagreements among family members can happen when someone in the family passes away. You can use a last will and testament to clearly set out your wishes—hopefully fostering unity and understanding during a challenging time.

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It’s always worthwhile sparing your loved ones from unnecessary complications and confusion.

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Types of last will and testament

There are three common types of last will and testament.

Simple will

This straightforward document outlines your wishes for asset distribution and guardianship, providing clear instructions to your loved ones

Testamentary trust will

A testamentary trust will is a legal document that directs assets to a trust upon the testator's death, managing distribution to beneficiaries as outlined in its terms.

Joint will

A joint will is a legal document jointly crafted by two individuals, typically a married couple, which distributes their property after both have died. 

What’s included in a last will and testament?

A comprehensive last will and testament typically includes the following essential elements:

Provide your full name, address, and date of birth to establish your identity within the document.

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Appoint a capable and trustworthy person to serve as the executor, also known as personal representative, of your estate. They’re responsible for carrying out your wishes and managing the distribution of your assets. In other words, with your estate planning and executing your legal documents.  

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As a testator, you can clearly identify the individuals or organizations—your beneficiaries—that will receive your assets, such as your life insurance policy.

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Nominate guardians for your minor children, designating responsible individuals who will provide care, guidance, and support in your absence.

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Provide specific instructions for the division and allocation of your assets. This includes real estate, bank accounts, charitable organization donations, digital assets, and real estate planning documents. Doing so ensures your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.

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Share your preferences regarding funeral arrangements, allowing your loved ones to honor your memory in a manner that aligns with your beliefs and desires.

It’s important to begin considering your funeral expenses and have a financial plan in place to reduce your family members’ stress.

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Include a residual clause to address the distribution of any remaining assets not explicitly mentioned in the document, ensuring no asset is left unaccounted for.

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Some states require signatures of witnesses and a notary public to be present in order to validate the last will and testament. Their responsibility is to vouch that you are of sound mind, and ensures the last will's authenticity, as well as legal enforceability.

However, other states allow for "self-proving" wills, which are wills that include a notarized affidavit signed by the witnesses. The self-proving affidavit is attached to your will.

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Frequently asked questions

A living will is slightly different—it’s a healthcare directive that governs your end-of-life medical treatment, or if you are incapacitated. It doesn't cover the distribution of assets or guardianship decisions after death. However, many people choose to create their living will at the same time as handling their last will and testament.

Yes, utilizing a last will and testament template is a common practice, and one Formswift can help with.

Our last will and testament template provides a structured framework and can be a helpful starting point.

However, if you're unsure you've covered everything, you can always consult with an experienced attorney from a law firm—especially one experienced with estate planning. They can double-check your document complies with state laws, reflects your unique circumstances, and represents your wishes.

Yes, it’s important to review and update your will form regularly, or when significant life events occur. A new will is needed for life events, such as when a child is born.

Testators can make changes by creating a new document or adding a codicil, which is an amendment to your existing will. Regular updates ensure your document remains current and aligned with your wishes.

However, note that changes should never be made by simply writing in new provisions or crossing out old ones. This could potentially invalidate the entire will. Instead, changes should be made through a codicil or by drafting a new will.

Dying without a last will and testament means your assets will be distributed according to your state's intestacy laws. This default distribution may not align with your preferences and can potentially lead to conflicts among family members. To ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, it’s crucial to have a valid and updated last will and testament.

An attorney’s guidance for probating a last will and testament can be immensely valuable. An attorney can navigate the complex probate process, handle any legal challenges, and provide expert advice to ensure your wishes are properly executed.

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