What is a ‘will’? Is it the same as a ‘last will and testament’?
A Will is a written document, generally prepared with the help of an attorney, that provides instructions for the disposition of a decedent’s (dead person’s) property. The term “Last Will and Testament” is simply a more complicated name for a Will.
Who should have a will?
Anyone who cares how his/her property is distributed upon his/her death, or who would handle matters for those she or he leaves behind, or be guardian for minor children. After all, “you can’t take it with you”.
What is probate?
Probate is the process by which legal title of property is transferred from the decedent’s estate to his/her beneficiaries. Since you can’t take it with you, the court determines who gets it.
If a person dies with a Will (“testate”), the probate court determines if the Will is valid, hears any objections to the Will, orders that creditors be paid and supervises the process to assure that property remaining is distributed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Will.
If a person dies without a Will (“intestate”), the probate court appoints a person to receive all claims against the estate, pay creditors and then distribute all remaining property in accordance with the laws of the state. The major difference between dying testate and dying intestate is that an intestate estate is distributed to beneficiaries in accordance with the distribution plan established by state law; a testate estate (after payment of debts, taxes and costs of administration) is distributed in accordance with the instructions provided by the decedent in his/her Will.
The cost of probate is either set by state law or by practice and custom in your community. The typical cost to probate an estate is in the range of 3% to 7% of the total estate value.
What is a ‘living will’?
Living Will is the popular name for a document spelling out the general kinds of medical care you would want–or not want–in the event you became unable to communicate with your health care providers.
Other names for a Living Will are a “medical directive” or “medical declaration”. It does NOT impact who gets your property or who is your Personal Representative or Guardian of your minor children. Wills Probate Texas, Wills In Probate Harris County Texas, Living Wills Texas
How long is a will valid?
A validly prepared and properly executed Will is valid until you intentionally revoke it or prepare and execute a new Will that revokes the previous Will. In addition, a change in marital status, such as a divorce, also may impact provisions in a Will and/or beneficiary designations.