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Last Will and Testament

A will is a document that details the distribution of your money, belongings and property after your death. In the document, you also name a "personal representative" (commonly known as an "executor") to distribute your property in accordance with your wishes

A will is a complex legal document, and the requirements vary from state to state. In many states, even a minor technical mistake can invalidate your will. Therefore, it is essential that you contact an attorney in your area for advice on drafting a will that respects your wishes.

It also is important to know that the way your assets are titled, and whether or not they are subject to beneficiary or statutory designations, can completely alter the plan established in your will. For this reason, too, it is important to have an attorney review your situation and help you with your will. The attorney can also advise you about any taxes that might be due on your death, and whether they can be avoided by planning ahead.

It is especially critical for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to have a valid will that expresses their wishes. If a person dies without a valid will, a complex set of state laws, known as intestacy laws, automatically direct who will inherit your property beginning with your biological family. Most state intestacy laws do not recognize domestic partner relationships. This means that if you do not have a legally valid will, your partner could end up with nothing or, worse yet, could lose property he or she paid for due to an inability to demonstrate ownership. Many states also have laws that require a person's spouse to receive a portion of the spouse's estate automatically.

The sample will provided here is intended to be used by a person who is not legally married to another person. If you are legally married, you must seek counsel of an attorney. A will is a document that details the distribution of your money, belongings and property after your death. In the document, you also name a "personal representative" (commonly known as an "executor") to distribute your property in accordance with your wishes.