Last Will And Testament Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Last Will And Testament, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Last Will And Testament?
(n) Last will and testament is the latest existing legitimate will or testament executed by a person before his death nullifying all the previous will and testament executed by him. The phrase is used to notify the legal existence of the document on the ground that there is no other will or testament executed after that date to supersede it.
History and Meaning of Last Will And Testament
Last will and testament, commonly referred to as a will, is a legal document that outlines the desired allocation of a person’s vital assets and personal property, including businesses, real estate, and investments, among other things, after their death. A will is a crucial tool that offers individuals the freedom to decide who will inherit their estates and the conditions under which these assets will be distributed. The concept of wills dates back to ancient times, well before the common era. In early Roman society, a dying individual could dictate the portion of their property that would be inherited by their beneficiaries, which was subsequently incorporated into English law in the late medieval period.
A will usually consists of several basic components, such as identifying information about the testator, a declaration of the testator’s capacity to make a will, a description of how the assets should be distributed, the selected executor, and the signatures of the witnesses. The validity of a will is determined by the laws of the state or jurisdiction in which it is executed. A last will and testament is significant because it enables people to manifest their final wishes before passing on, providing clarity and certainty to the beneficiaries with regard to the division of the estate.
Examples of Last Will And Testament
- John executed his last will and testament last week, which specifies that his wife would inherit the entirety of their estate, and the family dog would be donated to the local animal shelter.
- The probate court has instructed the executor to find and submit a copy of the testator’s last will and testament before dividing the estate among the heirs.
- After much contemplation, the wealthy businessman finally decided to draft his last will and testament and donate a significant portion of his fortune to an ecological organization.
Legal Terms Similar to Last Will And Testament
- Testator: A person who creates or makes a will.
- Executor: A person entrusted with administering the estate of a deceased person in accordance with the terms of their will.
- Probate court: A court that validates a will while supervising the administration of the estate of a deceased person.