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What Is a Will?
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After you draft a will, you always have the right to revoke the will or change the will
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Hi, my name is James Baron, I am a special education law and special needs estate planning attorney located in Waltham, Mass. Today for About.com, I'm going to talk about the topic of wills.

Definition of a Will

What is a will? A will is a formal document where you specify how you want property distributed upon your death. Now property can refer to really just about anything you own, whether it's real estate, investment accounts, bank accounts, or anything tangible you own like such as silverware, artwork or any collections. Now the laws of wills do vary by state, so it's very important you check with an attorney in your state to make sure the will will be valid in the state that you live,

How to Sign a Will

Anyone who drafts a will is called a testator. When a will is signed, it's usually signed in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will, and also the will is notarized. Some examples of property that a will does not apply to are called non-probate property, which would be any account that is held jointly, so for example if you hold a bank account or an investment account jointly with another individual, when you pass away that account will go to the other person in full and will not pass through a will.

Name an Executor in a Will

So a will applies to any other type of property you own individually in your own name. In a will, you can also specify who you want to be the guardian of any minor children you may have. A specification of a guardian is not legally binding but it can at least provide guidance to the court to indicate who should be the guardian of any minor children. In a will it is also important to name the person who will be the personal representativ -- this person is also referred to as the executor. This is the person who will ensure that any bills owed by you or your estate are paid, that any taxes owed are paid and what is leftover from the estate, that the property is distributed as specified in the will. After you draft a will, you always have the right to revoke the will or change the will through something called a codicil.

Death Without a Will

Finally, we should address the topic if you die without a will. That is called being intestate. Each state has its own set of laws that will determine what will happen to your property if you die without a will. However it can a rather complicated process and property may go to people who you don't want to give the property to and vice versa. People who you want to get the property won't get it. So therefore it's important to try to have a will so that the property will be distributed as you desire when you pass away.

To learn more about this topic, visit About.com.
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