The Difference Between a Testament and a Will Explained

When it comes to understanding the difference between a testament and a will, it's important to know that these two terms are often used interchangeably. A will is the Germanic term, while a testament is the French term. In normal speech, they can be used interchangeably, but there are some legal differences between them. A will traditionally included instructions regarding real property, such as land and structures on it that were the property of the testator.

It also contained instructions for personal property, such as money, jewelry, vehicles, and other precious goods. In most states, only the original last will and testament that is properly signed and witnessed is legally binding. Copies of a will and testament are generally not required. However, state law can allow two originals and can allow courts to accept a reliable copy if the original cannot be found.

A will and testament provide instructions to the court on the disposition of all assets, including who will receive them and in what amount. Having one can also make the probate process smoother. Additionally, you can provide guidance to your loved ones to make difficult decisions during a difficult time by naming a guardian for minor children and a person to manage their financial affairs in a will and testament. It's easy to confuse the terms living will and last will and testament, but they are completely separate legal documents with different purposes.

A last will and testament does not take effect until after the person dies, but a living will comes into play while the person is still alive but incapacitated. It's important to keep your current will and testament up-to-date, especially as personal circumstances change over time. The testator must sign the will at the end of the document, although the date can appear anywhere in the document. A living will must be duly witnessed and signed, just as a last will and testament must be duly attested and signed, to be valid. If a decedent does not leave a last will and testament, their assets will be administered by a probate court.