Frequently Asked Questions

Please select from any of the categories below

General

The idea for a one-stop-shop for all one's estate planning needs was created when wills.com's founder had to deal with the sudden loss of his father and its aftermath.

The first thing to do after you lose someone is to find a suitable funeral home that fits the deceased wishes and one that fits your budget.
the second step is to obtain proof of death which you can get from the funeral home or a medical examiner. If you need help with this call us.

Some people don’t want to probate a will. There is no requirement that a will or property go through probate, but if the decedent owned property that is not arranged specifically to avoid probate, there is no way for the beneficiaries to obtain legal ownership without it. There are some exceptions to this. Florida law allows a family to own property in a decedent’s name if they continue to pay taxes and do not sell it.

Probate requirements vary from state to state, give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9am - 5PM (PST)



Yes, an executor can witness a will – as long as they are not also a beneficiary of your will.


Laws differ from state to state. for assistance give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9 am - 5 PM (PST)

No – if a beneficiary, or their spouse or civil partner, witnesses a will, they forfeit their right to their share of the estate.

You should refuse to witness a will if:

  • The person signing is not the testator
  • You don’t think the testator has the mental capacity
  • You think the testator is being coerced into signing the will
  • You know that you are a beneficiary under the will or you’re the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.

If you’re uncomfortable in any way about the circumstances you should refuse.


A witness doesn’t have any ongoing legal responsibilities once they’ve signed the will. The only time they might be called upon again is if there is a challenge to the validity of the will after the testator has died. 

If someone claims that the signature is forged, or that the testator was either pressured into signing or didn’t have the mental capacity to sign, the witness’ testimony could be vital. They may be asked to sign an affidavit to confirm the circumstances in which the will was signed.

A notary public is a public officer who serves the public in non-contentious matters. A notary public is an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.

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Executing a will is the technical term for signing a will and making it legally binding. To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must 

  • sign the document while you have the capacity to know what you're doing, and
  • have two people sign the will as witnesses.

After you and either 2 witnesses have signed or a notary public has added their notary seal your will is now executed. 

Executing a will is the technical term for signing a will and making it legally binding. To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must 

  • sign the document while you have the capacity to know what you're doing, and 
  • have two people sign the will as witnesses.

Now that your will is executed we recommend storing your executed will in a safe place you can optionally upload a scanned copy to your wills.com profile. We recommend you communicate clearly with the executor and beneficiaries of your estate plan of the whereabouts of your important documents. 

Bequests-24112021.webp

You can use the "My Will Progress" menu on the right side of the dashboard to go back and forth between the different sections in your will by selecting the desired section.



You can always continue your will by going to wills.com > Logging into your account > and select continue my Will. 

This will take you back to where you left off. 

When creating a will, you must possess the legal competency or mental capacity to do so. Otherwise, the will may not be considered valid by the court. However, simply because someone has a mental illness or disease, that does not mean they automatically lack the required mental capacity. In fact, if the testator has periods of clarity, he or she could still be considered competent at the time the will is executed, if it occurs during that period of lucidity.

The answer will depend on all of the circumstances in your situation, but there are living trust and testamentary trusts. Testamentary trusts are created in a will and take effect when you die. They can be used to manage the distribution of assets that weren't specifically dealt with in the last will and testament form, such as property you acquired later.

The only time wittnesses might be called upon again is if there is a challenge to the validity of the will after the testator has died. If someone claims that the signature is forged, or that the testator was either pressured into signing or didn’t have the mental capacity to sign, the witness’ testimony could be vital. They may be asked to sign an affidavit to confirm the circumstances in which the will was signed.

If you move to a new state, you may need a new will. It depends on how any differences in the laws of new and previous state relate to your will. Although states typically recognize a will that complies with the laws of your previous state, a move is often a good time to update your will. Creating an updated will that is compliant with your new state is very easy on wills.com.

Last will and testament

A living trust is a legal entity - like a small corporation

• It holds assets

• Trust must be actively managed, with new assets going into the trust and assets that have been sold, being removed from the trust

• Trusts allow you to avoid probate and keep your affairs private

Unless you have experience or knowledge setting up a corporation it is wise to consult an attorney or hire one to manage your trust to ensure smooth execution post humously. alternatively, a reputable trust company can be used. 

A will stipulates the following:

* Names a personal representative (and a back-up)

* Names a guardian for your children (and a back-up)

* Creates a plan for your pets

* Dictates the distribution of your assets and property

* Decides how debts should be paid

A beneficiary whose maiden name has changed can prove their identity by producing a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or affidavit. Once the court sees appropriate documentation, it can distribute the funds, property, or other assets to the desired beneficiary.

Some states allow a will registry to be created at the courthouse, so you may try inquiring at the local probate court whether they maintain such a registry. Other locations to look at include a safety deposit box (this may require a court order if you didn't sign the signature card), under mattresses, between book pages, car glove boxes or trunks, or other private safes. If you don't know the attorney who drafted the will, you might look for old checks made out to attorneys or legal firms. You can also ask friends of the deceased who may have acted as witnesses whether or not there was mention of where the will was kept or the attorney involved. An address book may be a good resource for people to contact. If the Testator used an online service you way want to contact these.

No – A person might make a will many decades before it comes into effect, so it’s entirely possible that one, or both, of the witnesses, die before the testator. This doesn’t invalidate it in any way.


Laws differ from state to state. for assistance give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9 am - 5 PM (PST)

Yes, an executor can witness a will – as long as they are not also a beneficiary of your will.


Laws differ from state to state. for assistance give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9 am - 5 PM (PST)

No – if a beneficiary, or their spouse or civil partner, witnesses a will, they forfeit their right to their share of the estate.

You should refuse to witness a will if:

  • The person signing is not the testator
  • You don’t think the testator has the mental capacity
  • You think the testator is being coerced into signing the will
  • You know that you are a beneficiary under the will or you’re the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.

If you’re uncomfortable in any way about the circumstances you should refuse.


A witness must be an independent adult who isn’t related to the testator and has no personal interest in the will. A neighbour or family friend is ideal. Someone cannot be a witness if they are:

  • The spouse or civil partner of the testator
  • A beneficiary of the will
  • The spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary.

Executors can witness the will.

A witness doesn’t have any ongoing legal responsibilities once they’ve signed the will. The only time they might be called upon again is if there is a challenge to the validity of the will after the testator has died. 

If someone claims that the signature is forged, or that the testator was either pressured into signing or didn’t have the mental capacity to sign, the witness’ testimony could be vital. They may be asked to sign an affidavit to confirm the circumstances in which the will was signed.

A notary public is a public officer who serves the public in non-contentious matters. A notary public is an official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the secretary of state — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents.

Executing a will is the technical term for signing a will and making it legally binding. To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must 

  • sign the document while you have the capacity to know what you're doing, and
  • have two people sign the will as witnesses.

After you and either 2 witnesses have signed or a notary public has added their notary seal your will is now executed. 

Executing a will is the technical term for signing a will and making it legally binding. To execute a will in any state in the United States, you must 

  • sign the document while you have the capacity to know what you're doing, and 
  • have two people sign the will as witnesses.

Now that your will is executed we recommend storing your executed will in a safe place you can optionally upload a scanned copy to your wills.com profile. We recommend you communicate clearly with the executor and beneficiaries of your estate plan of the whereabouts of your important documents. 

Bequests-24112021.webp

You can use the "My Will Progress" menu on the right side of the dashboard to go back and forth between the different sections in your will by selecting the desired section.



You can always continue your will by going to wills.com > Logging into your account > and select continue my Will. 

This will take you back to where you left off. 

When creating a will, you must possess the legal competency or mental capacity to do so. Otherwise, the will may not be considered valid by the court. However, simply because someone has a mental illness or disease, that does not mean they automatically lack the required mental capacity. In fact, if the testator has periods of clarity, he or she could still be considered competent at the time the will is executed, if it occurs during that period of lucidity.

The answer will depend on all of the circumstances in your situation, but there are living trust and testamentary trusts. Testamentary trusts are created in a will and take effect when you die. They can be used to manage the distribution of assets that weren't specifically dealt with in the last will and testament form, such as property you acquired later.

You should choose witnesses who are adults (at least 18 years old), are not named as beneficiaries, and are not the spouse of a named beneficiary in your will.

A self-proving will is a signed will with separate witness affidavits attached. The witness affidavits are notarized statements signed by the testator and each witness confirming that they signed the document that is, in fact, the testator’s will. in a way that allows a probate court to easily accept it as the true will of the person who has died. In some states, a will is self-proving when two witnesses sign under penalty of perjury that they observed the testator sign it and that he told them it was his will.  A self-proving will is basically 

many courts will require the witness to appear at court, either personally or by sworn statement. If there is any trouble locating a witness, it could cause problems or delays with probate. But if you include a self-proving affidavit with your will, the affidavit itself proves the will without any additional statements from the witnesses. This could speed up the probate process

A self-proved will constitutes prima facie evidence of proper execution, without the necessity of witness testimony to prove the will.

A self-proving will is a will with an attached affidavit signed by a notary public stating that the will was properly signed and witnessed and that it is the will of the person who signed it. Many states allow such wills in order to avoid the difficulties of tracking down the witnesses. Having a self-proving will eliminates the need for witnesses to appear before the court in order to have the will admitted to probate.


If the will is self proved, compliance with the signature requirements for execution is conclusively presumed and other requirements of execution are presumed subject to rebuttal without the testimony of any witness unless there is proof of forgery affecting the acknowledgment or a sworn statement.

A Self-proving Affidavit of Execution is a document that attests to the fact that your Will has been properly executed. The Affidavit must be signed by you and your witnesses in front of a Notary Public. Probating a Will is less expensive if the witnesses do not have to testify in court. By having the witnesses to your Will join you in appearing before a Notary Public and signing this Affidavit under oath, you can waive the requirement for one or more of your witnesses to appear later before a probate court to acknowledge proper execution of your Will. This is helpful if one of your witnesses dies before you or is not available to appear at probate court.


If you did not prepare a self-proving Will, your Will is still valid, but where a witness has died or is no longer available to attest to their own signature, the probate court will have to affirm the signature of your witness in some other way, perhaps the signature on an old bank account.

Executor(s) of your estate are entitled to payment, however, most executors who are close family members do not ask to be paid. In situations when an executor gets paid, probate courts decide what is reasonable pay based state laws.

An executor, or personal representative, is the individual or entity responsible for managing your estate following your death. An executor is a fiduciary. This means that he or she has a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate.

An executor can either be named in your last will or appointed by a court if you die without a will. Some of the executor’s responsibilities include:

  • Filing a copy of the will with the probate court
  • Setting up a bank account to collect funds and pay liabilities
  • Maintaining property 
  • Filing an inventory of the estate’s assets with the probate court 
  • Distributing assets 
  • Paying estate debts and taxes

A last will and testament is the most recent version of your will, a legal document that details your wishes regarding how your estate's assets (your personal and real property) should be settled after your death, including:

  • How your assets should be distributed
  • An executor (personal representative) to manage the estate and distribute the assets as instructed in the will
  • Your will can be used to appoint legal guardians for children

Yes, the executor of your will can also be a beneficiary or trustee of your estate. 

A codicil is a legal document that changes one or more parts of your will. The codicil needs to refer to the sections in your original will being changed. Codicils can add confusion and add risk of challenges to your will. Just like a will, codicils need to be witnessed by at least two people who are not beneficiaries of either your original will or the codicil.

Your will needs to be witnessed by at least two people (three in Vermont) who are not named as beneficiaries in your will and are at least 18 years old.


Alternatively you can have your will notarized by a notary public

There are two ways to change your will: 

  1. Create a new will. There is no additional cost for a wills.com user to change a will.
  2. Add a codicil, a legal document that changes one or more parts of your will. The codicil needs to refer to the sections in your original will being changed. Codicils can add confusion and risk of challenges to your will.
    Just like a will, codicils need to be witnessed by at least two people who are not beneficiaries of either the codicil or your original will.

Joint Wills, Mirror Wills, Mutual Wills, and Reciprocal Wills are typically created by a couple (either married or partners in a committed relationship) to coordinate their wishes

Mutual Wills and Joint Wills are created by a couple to ensure that their property is disposed of identically. 

Mutual is mutually binding after one party dies, the remaining party is bound by the terms of the mutual will.

The purpose of this type of will is often to ensure that assets pass to children rather than a new spouse if the living partner remarries.

A mutual will is a technical legal device requiring an intention to form a binding agreement. A mutual will where each makes a reciprocal will, agreeing to how they want to leave their property according to a mutual agreement on how each is to distribute their own estate at death. It is not necessary that the couple agree to leave personal or other property in equal shares or to be equally divided among their children or other heirs a certain way.   

Mutual will promises do not become binding on the surviving spouse until the first spouse dies. Until that time, either spouse may change the will. However, mutual wills may include an agreement not to revoke a will or else the party is in breach of the contract to dispose of property as agreed through the wills. If a breach occurs, a court may impose a constructive trust on the property.

Mutual wills are any two (or more) wills which are mutually binding, such that following the first death the survivor is constrained in his or her ability to dispose of his or her property by the agreement he or she made with the deceased. Historically such wills had an important role in ensuring property passed to children of a marriage rather than a spouse of a widow or widower on a remarriage.

A joint will is a single legal document executed by spouses, making which has effect in relation to each signatory's property on his or her death (unless he or she revokes (cancels) the will during his or her lifetime). Although a single document, the joint will is a separate distribution of property by each executor (signatory) and will be treated as such on admission to probate. 

A joint will differs substantively from a mutual will in that the former is not intended to be irrevocable or to express a mutual intention; it is merely an administrative convenience. A will may be both joint (on one document) and mutual (see below).

Joint wills are not valid in all states.

The recognition of these forms varies widely from one jurisdiction to the next. Some permit both, some will not recognize joint wills, and many have established a presumption that one or both of these forms creates a will contract.

Mirror wills are two identical but separate wills where a couple's wishes are exactly the same. Also, each spouse or partner names the other as the executor. If both pass at the same time, each will contains language directing their estates to be distributed amongst their children or other chosen heirs. Mirror wills may or may not also be mutual wills.

If you move to a new state, you may need a new will. It depends on how any differences in the laws of new and previous state relate to your will. Although states typically recognize a will that complies with the laws of your previous state, a move is often a good time to update your will. Creating an updated will that is compliant with your new state is very easy on wills.com.

Probate

A living trust is a legal entity - like a small corporation

• It holds assets

• Trust must be actively managed, with new assets going into the trust and assets that have been sold, being removed from the trust

• Trusts allow you to avoid probate and keep your affairs private

Unless you have experience or knowledge setting up a corporation it is wise to consult an attorney or hire one to manage your trust to ensure smooth execution post humously. alternatively, a reputable trust company can be used. 

A beneficiary whose maiden name has changed can prove their identity by producing a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or affidavit. Once the court sees appropriate documentation, it can distribute the funds, property, or other assets to the desired beneficiary.

The idea for a one-stop-shop for all one's estate planning needs was created when wills.com's founder had to deal with the sudden loss of his father and its aftermath.

The first thing to do after you lose someone is to find a suitable funeral home that fits the deceased wishes and one that fits your budget.
the second step is to obtain proof of death which you can get from the funeral home or a medical examiner. If you need help with this call us.

Some people don’t want to probate a will. There is no requirement that a will or property go through probate, but if the decedent owned property that is not arranged specifically to avoid probate, there is no way for the beneficiaries to obtain legal ownership without it. There are some exceptions to this. Florida law allows a family to own property in a decedent’s name if they continue to pay taxes and do not sell it.

Probate requirements vary from state to state, give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9am - 5PM (PST)



Most people think of probate as involving a will. If a person dies and leaves a will, then probate is required to implement the provisions of that will.

However, a probate process also can happen if a person dies without a will and owns property that needs to be distributed under the state intestacy law (the law of inheritance). If the decedent owned an account that named a beneficiary (such as a retirement account) but the beneficiary has passed away before the owner of the account, probate law requires that account to go through the court so that the funds can be passed to the person legally entitled to them under state law.


Laws differ from state to state. for assistance give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9 am - 5 PM (PST)

Some states allow a will registry to be created at the courthouse, so you may try inquiring at the local probate court whether they maintain such a registry. Other locations to look at include a safety deposit box (this may require a court order if you didn't sign the signature card), under mattresses, between book pages, car glove boxes or trunks, or other private safes. If you don't know the attorney who drafted the will, you might look for old checks made out to attorneys or legal firms. You can also ask friends of the deceased who may have acted as witnesses whether or not there was mention of where the will was kept or the attorney involved. An address book may be a good resource for people to contact. If the Testator used an online service you way want to contact these.

No – A person might make a will many decades before it comes into effect, so it’s entirely possible that one, or both, of the witnesses, die before the testator. This doesn’t invalidate it in any way.


Laws differ from state to state. for assistance give our team a call on +1 (424) 437-2424 Monday till Thursday 9 am - 5 PM (PST)

The only time wittnesses might be called upon again is if there is a challenge to the validity of the will after the testator has died. If someone claims that the signature is forged, or that the testator was either pressured into signing or didn’t have the mental capacity to sign, the witness’ testimony could be vital. They may be asked to sign an affidavit to confirm the circumstances in which the will was signed.

Executor(s) of your estate are entitled to payment, however, most executors who are close family members do not ask to be paid. In situations when an executor gets paid, probate courts decide what is reasonable pay based state laws.

An executor, or personal representative, is the individual or entity responsible for managing your estate following your death. An executor is a fiduciary. This means that he or she has a legal duty to act in the best interests of the estate.

An executor can either be named in your last will or appointed by a court if you die without a will. Some of the executor’s responsibilities include:

  • Filing a copy of the will with the probate court
  • Setting up a bank account to collect funds and pay liabilities
  • Maintaining property 
  • Filing an inventory of the estate’s assets with the probate court 
  • Distributing assets 
  • Paying estate debts and taxes

Your personal representative, also referred to as executor, is named in your will as the person who will carry out your wishes after your death. Your personal representative pays your outstanding debts from your estate's assets and distributes your remaining assets (real and personal property) to heirs that you name as beneficiaries.

A last will and testament is the most recent version of your will, a legal document that details your wishes regarding how your estate's assets (your personal and real property) should be settled after your death, including:

  • How your assets should be distributed
  • An executor (personal representative) to manage the estate and distribute the assets as instructed in the will
  • Your will can be used to appoint legal guardians for children

Funeral

The idea for a one-stop-shop for all one's estate planning needs was created when wills.com's founder had to deal with the sudden loss of his father and its aftermath.

The first thing to do after you lose someone is to find a suitable funeral home that fits the deceased wishes and one that fits your budget.
the second step is to obtain proof of death which you can get from the funeral home or a medical examiner. If you need help with this call us.

Get started on your state-specific legal will with no further delay!

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