Confused about Wills? Unusual expressions demystified.

Although estate planning can be easy and intuitive, the legal jargon surrounding Wills can make it confusing for those who aren’t familiar with the process. Although many aspects of estate planning are actually relatively simple, the unfamiliar language that people associate with the law can make these aspects seem daunting, even unintelligible. The awkward words used in Wills may be intimidating, but you shouldn’t let a few unusual terms turn you away from preparing your own Will.

Wills

One of the philosophies that governs ExpatLegalWills.com is the idea that the law should be accessible, and that jargon terms shouldn’t prevent anyone from understanding their Wills. You shouldn’t be required to spend significant sums of money on legal advice just to understand your own Will. This glossary presents some of the most common terms that surround estate planning law, terms that will be useful as you write your Last Will and Testament. If there are others you would like to see, please add them in the comments.

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Can I write my own Last Will and Testament?

This is one of our most frequently asked questions, but it can mean one of two things;

A. Can I sit down with a blank piece of paper and write my own Last Will and Testament?
B. Can I prepare my own legal Will without using a legal professional.

Let us first explore question A.

Can I write my own Last Will and Testament?

The answer is “yes….but don’t”. The basic requirements of a Will are simple;

  • The document must be clearly identified as a Will, and that it is expressing your wishes.
  • Ideally it should revoke (or cancel) previous Wills
  • You must demonstrate that you have the capacity to make a Will
  • You must sign it in the presence of two witnesses (unless the document is entirely handwritten in which case witnesses are usually not required). The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries, but can be any adults with mental capacity. No legal training is required in order to be a witness to the signing of the Will.
  • The Will should describe the distribution of assets to beneficiaries

If all of these requirements are met, Continue reading