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Who’s Who in a Will

Everything you need to know about the key players in a will

During the estate planning process, the owner of the will must name multiple parties to take on different roles in order to properly execute the estate. Before diving into estate planning, familiarize yourself with all of the relevant parties in a will, so that you can appoint the right individuals to project both your future and your family.

Key Individuals Named in a Will

Testator: The testator is the author of the will. They sign and formalize the document. The one stipulation is that he or she be of adult age and sound mind, and there must be witnesses to confirm that the signing of the will is done without duress.

Witness: The appointed witness also signs the will to prove that it is created true to the testator’s wishes, and precisely is their last will and testament. The witness cannot be a beneficiary within the will.

Executor: The executor of the will is the individual named within the will, appointed by the court, and tasked with carrying out the terms of the document. Also referred to as the personal representative, the executor manages the assets, pays outstanding claims, and distributes the remainder of the assets to the beneficiaries. If your estate is large and complicated, consider naming a professional executor, because it is not an easy job.

Guardians: In the event that there are young children involved, guardians are appointed within the will as the designated caregivers if both parents become deceased. This person (or persons) will provide guardianship to the children until they are of legal age.

Beneficiaries: Those who will inherit the designated assets and property outlined in the will are called beneficiaries. They can be family members, friends, businesses or charitable organizations. It is a good idea to identify how the assets, monetary or otherwise, should be distributed to the beneficiaries within the pages of the will.

Financial Power of Attorney: The financial power of attorney is a family member or professional designated to handle financial decisions, make payments, and manage assets in the event that the testator becomes unable to represent his or her own interests.

Heathcare Power of Attorney: The healthcare power of attorney is a named individual, referred to as an agent, who has the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the testator if they are still living and physically or mentally unable to represent themselves. Duties can include all healthcare decisions up to life support and end-of-life care, unless alternatively specified in a living will.

Estate Planner: The professional representative, oftentimes an attorney, who assists in protecting your family, loved ones, and estate after you pass away is called the estate planner. They evaluate your needs and goals for the distribution of assets and property, name the key players listed above, and then develop your wishes into a legal and enforceable document.

Ready to kick off your estate planning? The estate planning attorneys at Anselmo Lindberg & Associates believe that designing and implementing an estate plan is most effective when completed before a crisis. Contact us to get started today.

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