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Last Will AND Testament

These days it seems like many people are more concerned about the legal ramifications of their will than to consider the other benefits it provides to a person’s legacy.  What other benefits?  Well, it’s called a last will and testament for a reason.  It serves multiple purposes.

The will portion is just that, your dying will.  You can not make decisions or take action when you are dead, but, your will can memorialize what your wishes and desires are so that others (your executor) can do them for you.  In most circumstances, it’s not just that others CAN do something for you, but they MUST do it.  We’re talking about things like a distribution of your worldly possessions, your tangible and intangible assets, and your entitlements.  This is what most people think about when they ask to have a will drawn up.

The testament portion is your chance to say something.  Maybe some of what you are saying is your will, but it is also your chance to say something else.  Send a message to a loved one.  Tell a joke.  Do something personal.  Make it yours.  Perhaps an autobiography is a bit much for a will, but a short paragraph to each of your beneficiaries explaining why they did or did not get a gift could be very meaningful.  This is the kind of legacy that can carry for generations.

Of course, “wills” may go through probate court, so remember that they are public documents.  This may be an attractive thing or a not-so-attractive thing for you, depending on your desire to make a public proclamation.  If you want privacy, you really want a trust.  You still get to give your will and your testament, but privately.  In that case, you determine who gets to hear your story.

This page is not intended to convey legal advice.  You should contact an attorney for your specific situation.