What is a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament is a legally-binding document in which an individual expresses his last wishes concerning the affairs and distribution of his estate.

How Does a Last Will and Testament Work?

An individual creates a will while still alive. A will indicates the manner in which the creator, or testator, wishes for his or her estate to be managed at the time of his or her death. A will may be of any length and typically includes the testator's signature, the signatures of two witnesses, and a named living executor responsible for ensuring the terms of the will are fulfilled in compliance with the judgments of a probate court. A will designated as an individual's last will and testament becomes the final authoritative document that overrides any and all other wills written previously.

Why Does a Last Will and Testament Matter?

The terms of the last will and testament become effective only once the testator has died. Except where deemed unlawful by a probate court, the terms of a will are permanent and can be carried out in no manner except as stated.