- To determine, locate and assemble the assets of the decedent. - To determine the decedent's lawful debts and pay them. - To distribute the remaining property to those who are entitled to it under the Will.
Q: HOW CAN A WILL BE REVOKED OR CANCELED?
Three ways: 1. Preparing a subsequent Will which expressly or impliedly revokes the earlier Will. 2. Physical destruction with intent of revoking or altering the existing Will. 3. In some states, acts such as marriage, total divorce and birth of a child automatically revoke a Will, unless the Will contains a provision that it will not be revoked by such events.
Q: WILL THE GOVERNMENT TAKE ALL OF MY PROPERTY IF I DIE WITHOUT A WILL?
No. The State will appoint an administrator for your estate. The administrator must distribute your property to your heirs in accordance to the intestate succession laws of your state, as noted above, after all debts and expenses are paid in settling your estate.
Q: WHERE SHOULD I STORE MY WILL?
A safe place, where you keep your other important documents. It is a good idea to tell your executor where to find your Will and other important documents that he/she will need to help settle your estate. A fire-proof safe in your house or a safety deposit box at a bank are good examples.
Q: IS A COPY OF MY WILL VALID?
Usually not. Normally only the signed original Will is legally valid, although under exceptional circumstances it may be possible to probate a copy if it can be proven that the signed original was lost or destroyed by accident. In some cases, it will be presumed that you destroyed your Will with the intent to revoke it. Therefore, it is best not to rely on a copy of your Will.
Q: SHOULD I LEAVE BURIAL INSTRUCTIONS IN MY WILL?
Normally burial instructions are not included in your Will, since the Will is generally not probated until after your burial. It is suggested that you include your burial instructions in a letter or otherwise let your family members know your wishes.
Q: WHAT ABOUT WILL DISPUTES?
Probate can be a lengthy, costly legal process especially if disgruntled parties challenge the validity or fairness of the Will through litigation claiming incapacity of the testator, duress or undue influence. To avoid probate, many opt to set up a living revocable trust, because it passes the property and wealth onto the beneficiaries quickly and efficiently. Since your trust holds title to your property on behalf of your beneficiaries, when you die, it automatically transfers that property over to them often without any delay or legal challenge. But compared to simple wills, living revocable trusts are more expensive and complicated to set up and maintain while you are alive.