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A document stating how and to whom a person wants his/her property transferred after death. In addition to transferring property, a will may specify how certain responsibilities are to be performed. For example, a will may state who shall take care of the decedent's minor children, how they are to be educated, and so forth. A court must enforce the provisions of a will unless there is some overriding legal reason for it not to do so. Many advisers recommend writing a will to ensure that the writer's wishes are carried out.
Farlex Financial Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All Rights Reserved


A will is a legal document you use to transfer assets you have accumulated during your lifetime to the people and institutions you want to have them after your death.

The will also names an executor -- the person or people who will carry out your wishes.

You can leave your assets directly to your heirs, or you can use your will to establish one or more trusts to receive the assets and distribute them at some point in the future.

The danger of dying without a will is that a court in the state where you live will decide what happens to your assets. Its decision may not be what you would have chosen, and its deliberations can be costly and delay settling your estate.

Dictionary of Financial Terms. Copyright © 2008 Lightbulb Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


An instrument by which a person directs the disposition of assets after death.At one time the term will referred to disposition of real property, and a testament was a disposition of personal property,hence the expression “last will and testament.”Today,will covers all properties. See also holographic will (handwritten), nuncupative will (oral), intestate succession (dying without a will), and escheat (dying with no will and no heirs).
The Complete Real Estate Encyclopedia by Denise L. Evans, JD & O. William Evans, JD. Copyright © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
* Court-made Rules--How does this exception apply when a settlor's or testator's intent conflicts with some court-made rule?
How confident can we be, then, about a testator's intent to redefine heirs by virtue of a negative will?
1984) (recognizing that although only the specific testamentary gift procured by undue influence is invalid a court may exercise its equitable powers to invalidate the entire will if doing so would better carry out the testator's intent).
Yet, once we determine that a negative will implicitly extends to descendants of the disinherited heir, we have little reason to assume that the testator's intent to disinherit an heir of the lower generation would depend on the survival Eel non of the disinherited heir in the higher generation.
It may happen that an event has the interesting, dual property of altering the testator's intent while also depriving the testator of a realistic opportunity to revise his or her estate plan to reflect the change.
or any other purely probate matter, if it "raises questions which would ordinarily be decided by a probate court in determining the validity of the decedent's estate planning instrument, whether those questions involve fraud, undue influence, or tortious interference with the testator's intent." The Ninth Circuit also made this statement, which the U.S.
In such cases, the law allows the existing will to be revoked by a writing executed with the formalities of a will or by act, such as canceling the will; however, if the will is revoked by act, consideration should be given to utilizing witnesses to prove that the testator performed the act of revocation on the original will "with the intent, and for the purpose of revocation" and to evidencing the testator's intent to revoke and act of revocation on the original will.
The IRS construed the clause as an aid in determining the testator's intent rather than a savings clause and allowed the estate to claim a marital deduction.
Better drafting would have avoided the risk and the cost of going to court twice to achieve what was clearly the testator's intent.
In the Matter of the Estate of Kesling provided the South Dakota Supreme Court the opportunity to decide whether a holographic will clearly expressed the testator's intent regarding the disposition of his property.