The legal formalities to make a valid will require the will-maker to sign their will in the presence of at least two people, acting as formal witnesses to the event. Signing a will in front of witnesses fulfils a protective function. Can anyone witness or attest the signing of a will? And what must they do ?
Probate is the official process to establish or prove, whether a deceased person’s will or testamentary document is valid and intended to be their last will.
A grant of probate is the document issued by the Court of Probate after completion of an examination process. A type of grant of representation, it is an order of the Court certifying that the executor (or personal representative) named in the document is lawfully authorised to administer the estate of the deceased person. It is also official recognition that the will (which may include codicils) was proved to be valid by the Court and intended to be their last will. This article is about probate, which only applies when a will was left.
Keeping an original will safe and secure is one thing, (for more on storing a will click here), but as a practical matter, it is also important to let executors know, or family or a trusted friend, of its whereabouts.
But what if for some reason an original will cannot be located? What can be done? Does it mean the intestacy rules have to apply?
To see the contents of a deceased person’s will can be difficult if you are not the executor. But in some states if you know who has the will, a copy, or other testamentary document, the law requires them to allow people who are entitled to have access, to inspect or see the will; and have a copy of it. Copying is at their own expense, but costs must be reasonable.
Joint tenancy and tenancy in common are ways of co-owning property with others. Inheritance is independent of a will with one, but not under the other.
Language can be confusing. The way that certain words are used in a will may cause difficulties in interpreting what the willmaker actually meant, but unfortunately may not come to light until they have passed away. Two such words are “children” and “issue”.