Wills

Question:  What is a will?

Answer:  A will (also known as a last will and testament) is a document formally executed by a person (the testator) that specifies who will receive that person’s assets upon his or her death. An improperly executed will may void, and the laws of intestate succession may apply upon that person’s death.

Question:  What is a personal representative?

Answer:  A personal representative (previously known as an administrator or executor) is the person appointed to administer a person’s (the decedent) estate upon his or her death. Generally, a personal representative is named in the decedent’s will. If the decedent died without a will, if the will failed to name a personal representative, or if the personal representative named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve in such capacity, the court will appoint a personal representative.

Question:  What happens when someone dies without a valid will?

Answer:  When someone dies without a will, or without a valid will, he or she is deemed to have died intestate, and the law dictates who will receive that person’s assets.

Question: Is a living will different than a will?

Answer:  A living will is very different from a will.

A living will is a formally executed document stating whether or not the declarant (the person who executed the living will) wishes for his or her life to be artificially prolonged in the event that he or she is 1) incapacitated, 2) has a terminal or end-stage condition, or is in a persistent vegetative state, and 3) his or her doctors determine that there is no reasonable medical probability of recovery.

A will typically refers to a last will and testament, which is a formally executed document stating how the testator (the person who executed the will) wishes for his or her assets to be divided upon his or her death.

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