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A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that a person, known as a grantor, will create to specify how their personal and real property will be distributed after their death. Once the form is created, it must be signed, witnessed, and notarized to become a legally enforceable document. Once the proper steps have been taken, the Will should be sent to all of the named beneficiaries as well as the Grantor’s attorney. Though state laws vary toward last will and testament documents, they do not need to be submitted to any state entity. However, a Last Will and Testament may be registered with the County Clerks Office, Probate Courts, and certain Secretary of State offices.
A Last Will and Testament is also referred to as a “Last Will” or a “Will”.
Grantor - The Grantor, also known as the testator, is the individual or couple whose personal and real property will be distributed once they pass away.
Beneficiary - This is the term used to identify the individual or individuals receiving the grantors personal or real property.
Witness - This is a person who signs the Will, attesting that the grantor is drafting this Will is of sound mind. Most states require two (2) witnesses who are not named on the will as beneficiaries for the document to be up to state standards.
Each state has its own set of laws, definitions, and signing requirements that relate to last will and testament documents. Below, these specifics are defined for the state of Alabama.
Definition of Will - §43-8-1(34)
Laws - Title 43, Chapter 8 (§43-8)
Witnesses - According to §43-8-131, the document must be signed by two (2) individuals who are not recognized in the Will.
Step 1 - Using the provided FormSwift Template, enter the name of the Grantor, followed by his or her identified gender.
Step 2 - Specify the city and county of residence.
Step 3 - Specify the Grantor’s marital status from one of the following choices:
If the Grantor is single, proceed to the next step. If married, divorced, widowed, separated or engaged, enter the name of the person, and designate whether or not this person is to be named as a beneficiary.
Step 4 - Specify if the Grantor has any children, along with pets, property, or life insurance.
Step 5 - Describe the names of the children, whether they are deceased or living, and whether or not they will be named as beneficiaries. In addition list the names of pets, and information about any life insurance.
Step 6 - If the Grantor has any children, specify which property he or she would like to leave each child, as well as the percentage of property to be inherited.
Step 7 - Indicate whether or not the Grantor wishes to set up a trust for a person who is disabled or mentally ill. Setting up a trust for a person with special needs or someone who requires special care can prevent any interference with their ability to receive Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid benefits.
Step 8 - Specify the age that children must be in order to start receiving benefits from the trust, as well as the portion that will be received. Lastly, enter what age the beneficiary will be when the benefits are terminated.
Step 9 - Describe whether or not the Grantor has a specific funeral home that he or she would like their body taken to. If so, input the name and address of the funeral home.
Step 10 - If the Grantor knows where he or she would like the meal after the funeral service to be held, as well as any other burial arrangements, specify that information.
Step 11 - Naming an Executor - An Executor is a person charged with administering the Grantor’s estate once he or she passes away. This person can be a beneficiary in the Will, or a trusted person such as an attorney or good friend. If an Executioner is not named in a Will, the court will appoint one. If the Grantor has an appointed Executioner, provide the following information.
Additionally, state whether or not the Grantor would like to appoint an alternate Executioner. If so, state his or her name and your relationship with them.
Lastly, if there is someone the Grantor does not want to act as Executioner under any circumstances. If so, state their name, and relationship with the Grantor.
Step 12 - Appointing a Trustee - If the Grantor’s assets are already in a trust, he or she must appoint a Trustee who will be responsible for distributing the assets out of the trust.
Step 13 - If the Grantor’s assets are set up in a trust, state the following information:
Similar to declining potential Executioners, if there is a person that the Grantor does not want to act as a Trustee under any circumstances, state the name and relationship this person has with the Grantor.
Step 14 - Digital Executioner - A Digitial Executioner can be a different person than the appointed Executioner. A Digital Executioner is charged with handling the digital assets of the Grantor. Digital assets can be many things, including, but not limited to digital currency, photos, logos, media, and anything else of value that can be stored on an electronic device, accessory, or cloud-based platform. If the Grantor wishes to appoint a Digital Executioner, provide the following information:
Step 15 - Guardian for Minor Children - If the Grantor wishes to appoint a guardian for his or her minor children, provide the following information of the appointed guardian, followed by the name of any conservator.
Step 16 - Appointing Additional Beneficiaries - If the Grantor wishes to appoint additional beneficiaries, provide the following information:
Step 17 - Disinheritance - If the grantor wishes to disinherit a spouse or a child, describe the following information:
Step 18 - Witnesses - Provide the following information for each witness:
Remember that in order for this document to be legal, it must be signed by all parties, including two (2) witnesses. In addition, the document must be notarized by a notary public.