- Pursuant to the law pertaining to a last will and testament, the primary functions of the instrument include establishing what assets that you own in life are to go to your heirs following your death. The will also appoints an executor to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Finally, a function of a will is to direct that all legitimate debts outstanding at the time of your death are satisfied.
- The laws of all states require that you be competent at the time you sign your will. If there is any question regarding your competence at the time your will is signed, you open your will to challenges and the prospect of having it thrown out by a court as invalid.
- Witnesses must be present at the time you execute your will. Some states require the presence of two witnesses, some require three. A notary public must notarize your signature and those of each witness as well. Technically, a notary public is to question each witness and confirm his opinion that you are of sound mind (competent) when you sign your last will and testament.
- Upon your death, the original version of your will must be filed with the probate court. The court does not accept a copy. Therefore, you need to keep the original of your will in a secure location, like a safe deposit box. Advise the person you appoint as your executor and at least one other trusted family member or friend where you keep your original will.
- The benefits of a last will and testament include distributing your property in the manner you desire after your death. In the absence of a will, the law of the state where you reside dictates who gets what. You appoint a person you trust to handle your affairs following your death. Without a will, the state appoints an administrator whom you may not even know to oversee your estate. Through a will you even can dictate what you desire for your funeral and the final disposition of your remains.