A will is a legal document which states exactly how a person wants their estate to be distributed in the event of their death. It may be an elaborate printed document containing several pages or it could be just a handwritten page. The important aspect to a will is that it should be signed and its validity should be proved, absolutely.
Making a will is normally an unpleasant but necessary task for a person. If someone dies without leaving a will, they are said to have died intestate, which can lead to untold disputes among the successors. Therefore, it is essential that a person makes their will during their lifetime to ensure that their estate will be distributed according to their wishes.
Although Wills Law varies in different states, there are some common Wills laws in the United States which are discussed here.
The Wills and Estates Division: This is the government department which gives guidance to people how to make their wills and how to take care of intangible property such as stocks, pensions and bank accounts.
United States Uniform Probate Code: This is the guideline known as The 1991 Uniform Probate Code (UPC 1991) and is the national recommended laws which apply to succession of property and assets of a person after their death. Non probate transfers are also considered and issues relating to guardianships for incapacitated adults and minors.
Uniform Simultaneous Death Act (1991) (1993): This is a law which controls the passing of the property of two deceased members who die within 120 hours of each other.
Tax Treatment: United States Wills law is largely dominated by federal taxes. In the past, estate tax used to be levied only during emergencies like a military crisis. Today, it has become a permanent feature in the American tax structure.
Trusts: Another important field to be considered is that of trusts. Trust law is an important factor in Wills Law but is a very vast field and should be considered separately while dealing with a will.
Thus, the importance of a will should always be kept in mind and this basic information should be helpful to anyone who needs to get a rough idea about how wills law works.