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What Does My Last Will and Testament Do?

Your will is a legally binding statement directing who will receive your probate property at your death. It also nominates the personal representative to carry out your directions and represent your estate. 

One of the most important aspects of your will is that it only controls your probate property. Probate property only includes assets that are in your own individual name. Many types of property pass outside of probate. Jointly-owned property, property in trust, life insurance proceeds and property with a named beneficiary, such as IRAs or 401(k) plans, all pass outside of probate and not according to the will.

Your Last Will & Testament provides the opportunity to name your personal representative(s). This is the person who will take your assets through probate and make final distributions to your heirs. Your personal representative should be completely trustworthy and impartial, with the ability to avoid and handle conflicts with family members. 

To learn more about your last will and testament, and the other documents we recomment for our clients, please see our handout on the 4 Estate Planning Documents (Most) Everyone Should Have.

D. Rep DeLoach III
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Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
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