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.

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Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy

Paul has been a respected figure in the financial markets for more than two decades. Prior to starting InvestingAnswers, Paul founded and managed one of the most influential investment research firms in America, with more than 3 million monthly readers.

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