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WILL OR TESTAMENT
Kristen S. Simpson
A will or testament is a legal document. Its requirements are determined by state law. It allows people to decide what happens to their property and to direct how it it distributed when they die. The person making the will is called a testator in legal parlance. In order for a will to be valid, it must represent the intent of the testator and the testator must have had the mental capacity to make the decision and the will must be free of fraud or undue influence. Most states require a will to be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people. A will should then be “proven” and the best way to do this is to have the will’s signatory and witnesses be witnessed by a notary public.
If a person dies without a valid will, the person is said to be “intestate.” In Kentucky, the laws are complicated about what happens to the property of the deceased person. If you want your wishes to be observed and don’t want to place a legal burden on the survivors, it is important to have a will.
Legal representation, while not required is recommended for the person making the will and also by the survivors after death. The laws and procedures can be complicated for the lay person but legal representation can avoid many of the mistakes people can make administering an estate. Some mistakes can be costly, if not just frustrating and time consuming.
Settling the estate of a deceased person means first settling all the financial matters like paying off and collecting any debts and then distributing the remaining assets according to the will or according to the law if there isn’t any will. Getting legal help making a will and settling one after death can save you enormous headaches.