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What are the parts of a will?

On Behalf of | Jan 12, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Creating a will is a step in planning for the future that some may feel hesitant about at first. However, this legal document that outlines how others should distribute a person’s assets and belongings to their heirs is one of the most important ones they may make before their death.

To learn about the importance of a will, it is important to grasp the key components that make up this document.

Introduction and identification

The opening section of a will serves as an introduction and contains identification information. Here, the testator, the person creating the will, provides their full name, date of birth and address. This introduction sets the stage for the legal validity of the document.

Executor appointment

In this section, the testator designates an executor, the individual responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets according to the terms of the will. The executor plays a huge role in carrying out the wishes outlined in the document, ensuring a smooth transfer of assets.

Asset distribution

A significant portion of a will includes specifying how other people should give away the testator’s assets to beneficiaries. This includes real estate, financial accounts, personal belongings and any other valuable possessions. Clearly outlining who receives what helps prevent potential arguments.

Guardianship for minors

For those with minor children, a will is an important tool for appointing guardians. This section outlines the testator’s choice for individuals who will take on the responsibility of raising and caring for their children in the event of the testator’s passing.

Debts and taxes

A responsible will should address outstanding debts and potential taxes. The testator may specify how others should handle these financial obligations, ensuring that they settle any remaining debts appropriately and pay taxes from the estate. As of 2024, an individual American can give away $13.6 million before having to pay gift and estate taxes.

Residuary clause

The residuary clause is a catch-all provision that accounts for any assets not specifically mentioned in the will. It ensures that any overlooked or newly acquired assets are in the distribution plan.

By understanding these components, individuals can create an effective will that accurately reflects their wishes. Taking the time to create a well-crafted will is a considerate act that can bring peace of mind to both the testator and their loved ones.