Common Questions Asked About Last Will Forms

WHAT IS A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT? A Last Will and Testament controls the distribution of your property at death and you may give some one you trust guardianship over your children after your death. No property is transferred or effects will take place, a will is not effective as long as you’re living. CAN MY LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT BE CHANGED? Yes. Changes to a will are made by simply making a new will and destroying the old one. Or you can just add on to your will with a “Codicil”.

A Codicil is a legal document that must be signed and executed in the same way you executed your will. This is where downloadable, printable legal form websites will help you quickly draw up a new will or add to it. The best practice to use is to consult an attorney about changes to your will you want if you are afraid to make the original will invalid.

WHAT IS MY LEGAL RESIDENCE? Your legal residence is the state where you’re true fixed and permanent home, a place where if you’re temporarily absent you will return.

IS MY LEGAL RESIDENCE IMPORTANT WITH REGARD TO MY WILL? Yes. Your legal residence may affect which state you have to file your will in and the amount of state inheritance or estate tax that may be paid at death.

WHAT IS MY ESTATE? Your estate consists of all of your property, personal belongings, and cash which you own. You can also list things you are entitled to own at the time of your death. Your estate should also include your insurance policy and who is the primary, or even secondary beneficiary. You may also wish to divide your estate among several persons.

WHAT IS A BENEFICIARY? A beneficiary is the person whom you will leave your estate too. You may leave all your property to one single beneficiary or you can divide your estate among several people.

WHAT IS A SECONDARY BENEFICIARY? Those who will inherit your property if your primary beneficiary dies before your death. You can keep the chain going and include as many third beneficiaries, fourth, fifth, and so on.

CAN I DISPOSE OF MY PROPERTY IN ANY WAY? Yes, but not exactly in all states. Some states require that a married person give their spouse some part of their estate. Plus your guardianship should be chosen with great care because this person will be charged with the duty of raising your children and managing their legal affairs.

SHOULD I NAME A GUARDIAN FOR MY CHILDREN IN MY WILL? Yes. A guardian should be named in a will. This will ensure that your children and their portion of your estate is cared for and protected in case both parents die.

WHAT IS AN EXECUTOR? An executor or executrix (if female) a so-called “personal representative” is the person who will manage and settle your estate according to the will. You should also consider naming a substitute executor in the event that the named executor fails to act as the executor of your estate. WHAT IS PROBATE? A court procedure where a will is proved valid or invalid. Probate proceedings will also finalize your estate, taxes and guardianship of your children.

HOW LONG IS A WILL VALID? An executed and properly drawn will is valid until you change it or it is revoked. However new tax laws, marriage, birth of children, and sometimes a substantial change in property/assets can determine whether your will is adequate and your property/assets will pass in the manner you chose.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T MAKE A WILL? You have no say in how your property is divided.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PROPERTY HELD IN THE NAMES OF BOTH HUSBAND AND WIFE? Joint bank accounts and real property held in both names usually get passed to the survivor and NOT by the deceased’s will, depending on your states laws.

MLA Citation: “Will Information Sheet” The Naval Post Graduate School. 2006. Presidio of Monterey Legal Assistance Office. 12 Dec. 2006 <>.

Click here to find your state’s Last Will Form. provides downloadable and printable Last Will and Testament Forms.


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