A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document in which a person expresses their wishes as to how their assets are to be distributed at death. In a will, a person may also name a guardian for their minor children or give instructions as to how to take care of any surviving pets.

A will guarantees that the person’s wishes are respected and can facilitate things for their heirs. If an individual dies without a will, the distribution of his goods and estate is carried out by the government, and may even end up becoming state possessions. The format of wills may change, but most of them follow a quite uniform layout.

The record usually starts with a statement saying that the person is of legal age and is writing the will freely and with no duress. It also certifies the person’s mental soundness at the time when the will was written. This part also includes the identification of the writer and an explicit statement that this final will makes possible previous wills legally void.

The core section of the will names the beneficiaries of the deceased person’s assets and estate. Clear instructions are fundamental in order to prevent possible legal disputes that may delay probate and create considerable legal expenses.

Most States require a will to be witnessed by two individuals and signed by the writer at the end of the record. After death, the will is sent to the probate court of the district in which the individual lived. The probate process may be either quick or protracted, depending on the number and size of goods and estate involved and on whether there are legal disputes among heirs.