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Finding The Right Last Will And Testament Format

19th October 2009
By Krishan Bakhru in Legal
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By law, anyone who is over the age of 18 and is of a sound mind, can prepare his or her own will and testament. There are many last will and testament formats that can be used. This one document governs the disposal and distribution of a person's property after his or her death and specifies the rights of the beneficiaries to the assets left to them. Everyone, irrespective of age, should prepare a will as soon as they have property to leave upon their death.

What types of last will and testament format you use is not just dependant upon your personal preference. The laws of wills, property and inheritance varies from state to state so it is essential that before you choose your last will and testament format you determine if it is valid in the state in which you reside. You need also to remember that if you move to another state, your existing will may not be valid under the laws of your new state. Let's look at the most common last will and testament formats currently in use.

Different Last Will And Testament Formats

Among the various last will and testament formats, that of the oral will is the most rarely used. This is a case where the person preparing the will, the testator, verbally informs some people of how he wishes his estate to be disposed of after his death. When the testator dies, those to whom he expressed his wishes, convey them to the beneficiaries who then act to divide the estate accordingly. This last will and testament format is recognized in only a very few states, and that too only after some specific conditions have been fulfilled and after some forms have been completed. Obviously this is not a secure way to dispose of your property as peoples' memories will vary over time and also some may have ulterior motives and distort what the testator had told them.

Many states accept holographic wills. This is a last will and testament format where the testator writes out his will in his own handwriting and signs it. There are not witnesses and the validity of the will depends on the handwriting and signature being verified as being that of the testator. This simple will and testament form is recognized in some states but once again, since there are no witnesses and the right format for writing out a will may not have been followed, it is not difficult for a beneficiary who is not happy with his inheritance to contest the will.

Video will are becoming increasingly popular. In this type of last will and testament format, a person uses a video camera to record his speech wherein he gives instructions on the disposal of his estate after death. This type of will is accepted only in some states. It can be useful in conjunction with a standard written will as the video recording can demonstrate the testator's soundness of mind, if that should be questioned.

The best last will and testament format is that of the properly drafted signed and witnessed will. This can be done by the testator himself using the resources available on the internet and in laymen's guides, or by retaining the services of a lawyer.

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