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What You Need to Know about Basic Wills - Our Guide

Have you ever thought about what will happen if you die without drawing up a will? Here's what will happen: the state will decide what happens to your estate, which includes all your assets and possessions. In other words, the law will dictate who's going to inherit what after your death. 

This is probably why you've heard people saying that if you do nothing else to take care of your legal affairs, you should write a will. A valid last will and testament will leave no questions as to what your wishes are when you die. In short, you may express what you want to happen after your death through a simple will.

In the next section, we'll learn more about the importance of a basic will, discuss its correlation with probate, and cite a few examples. Maybe after that, you can see if a basic will is for you.


Importance of Basic Will

What exactly is a basic will? By definition, a basic or simple will is a legal document stating the wishes of the testator with regards to the distribution of their assets upon his or her death. The testator is the one who wrote the will. The executor is the one who will handle the estate during the testator's death, as stated in the will. 

In essence, a basic will specifies or states the following:

  • People and organizations you choose to leave some of your property to
  • Someone to manage the property you leave to your minor children
  • Who will care for your minor children since you won’t be around to do so
  • Your executor, the person tasked to make sure your will is followed to the letter


Instances Requiring Basic Will 

If you are below 50 years old and you only have a few valuable assets, you can come up with a basic will. However, when you're older and have acquired more assets and properties, you may need to have a more complex will and testament. Let's look at an example of how a basic will works.  

Chances are you and your spouse are getting older and have properties you want to leave to each other or your children in equal shares. You may also want to name a personal guardian for your children. Part of this is to have an executor who will oversee and execute your basic will. 

For instance, you and your spouse own two cars and have a total net worth of $400,000. You have one child named John, aged 11. In your will, you state that if you and your spouse die, all these assets will go directly to your son, John. You also indicate that your brother, June, will act as the executor and John’s guardian. June will take care of John and manage the property until John turns 18.


Basic Will and Probate

Another important matter as well is the relationship between a basic will and probate. The question is, can a basic will avoid probate? The simple answer is no. Probate is a legal process in which a will is reviewed to determine whether it is authentic and valid. Its length varies from state to state and can take anywhere from six months to a year. This may eat up three to five percent of your estate in lawyers' and court fees, and your beneficiaries will probably get little. But if you need only a basic will, you have very little reason to be concerned with probate. Your real concern is to make legal arrangements, should something unexpected happen to you. You've still got plenty of time to plan for probate later.


Final Words: Is a Basic Will for You?

The question is, is a basic will for you? The answer is yes if you:

  • Are in pretty good health.
  • Are under the age of 50.
  • Don't expect to owe estate tax upon your death.


However, if one of the following applies to you, then you probably need something more complex than a basic will. This includes the following cases:

  • Needing to control what happens to your property after your death.
  • Having a child with a disability or other special needs.
  • Having children from a prior marriage.
  • Needing to control what happens to your property after your death.
  • Thinking someone might contest your will.
  • When you or your spouse owes estate tax after your death


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How a Divorce Will Affect Your Last Will and Testament

When you get married, you may get so caught up in your wedding that you forget nothing lasts forever. You and your spouse could fall out of love with each other and separate. After which you realize your ex can still benefit from your last will and testament. A divorce will affect how such a document operates. Even if you think you and your spouse will not end up divorcing, you should take that possibility seriously and plan accordingly.


Separation does not have the same legal effect as a divorce


Even if you and your ex were already leading separate lives before your divorce was finalized, the terms of your last will and testament remain the same. Your ex still has rights to your estate, not until a formal decree dissolving your union terminates those rights. If you can’t wait to legalize your divorce, you can amend your last will and testament instead. The process of doing so is different in every case and jurisdiction.


What will happen to your will after your divorce?


If you made your last will and testament before you got married, your divorce will not affect any of its provisions. But things will get slightly complicated if you drew up a will while you and your former spouse were married. The assets you leave your ex will still belong to them. However, other provisions that will benefit your former spouse as an individual will be voided concerning divorce law. In this case, you need not amend your will.


You may find it tricky if you left everything to your ex in your will. If you identified another beneficiary in your will, like your children, the rights to your property will pass from your ex to your alternate in the event of a divorce.  


Always be sure to name an alternate beneficiary


If you named an alternate beneficiary, no doubt exists about who will inherit your estate in the event of your death. That’s why you shouldn’t forget to name one. Without children, a trustworthy friend or relative will suffice. Some name charitable organizations as alternates. The failure to do so will give the government the power to take over your estate if a dispute exists. Your estate will be subject to probate proceedings. The court will distribute what you left behind to your surviving kin.


Impact of last will on third-party beneficiaries such as your former spouse’s relatives


A divorce will void the provisions in your will from which your ex stands to benefit, except for the assets that you give them as a form of alimony. But if you designated a friend or relative of your ex as an agent, beneficiary, or guardian, those provisions will remain valid. These people are considered third parties not involved in divorce proceedings. So legally, they remain entitled to their share of your estate as long as they remain named in your will. 


You can go over these provisions with a probate attorney so you know which parts of your will need to be amended to reflect your dissociation with your spouse, their friends, and family. You can also choose not to amend these provisions if you think these people deserve a share. It’s up to you to decide what will happen to third-party beneficiaries in your will after your divorce.


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Things You Should Know as an Executor of Will

A last will states the last requests of the deceased and a fundamental building block to any estate plan. It goes beyond capturing a loved one’s last goodbye. Through a will, assets become gathered and distributed. Also, instructions laid out to settle business affairs, debts, and file any necessary tax returns. In that regard, an executor will be entrusted with the responsibility of distributing these assets. If you’re named the executor of a will, it may be overwhelming to sift through complicated matters of someone else’s life. Here’s a guide to help you fulfill the individual’s final wishes.



Movies often depict an executor’s job in a more romantic light wherein the trusted person accepts the responsibility of dividing the deceased person’s belongings among his or her loved ones. However, expect it to be far more complicated in reality. It handles the person’s property and arranges for payment of estate debts and expenses. It requires a serious commitment that demands diligence and honest work, making it a role that should be carefully considered before deciding to accept the honor of being named an executor. To that end the typical responsibilities executors will tackle include:


Determine the need for probate

One of the first tasks of an executor includes determining whether or not the deceased’s estate needs to go through probate. This necessary step proves the genuinity of the will. You can work with the court or lawyer to analyze how much of the estate must go through probate. However, some instances deemed unnecessary. Typically, these are estates defined as “small” by the state law. 


Determine and estimate the value of the estate

Before an estate goes through probate, the executor will first need to take inventory of the entire estate and estimate its total value. This typically consumes much time as professional appraisers may need to be hired to conclude the correct estimation, including rare items the deceased used to own. In cases where the estate does not go through probate, the executor should work with the court or a lawyer to discern the value of the estate.


Protect the property and pay bills

This means that the executor must protect a property until properly distributed to heirs or sold. Other than the listed properties included in the last will, the executor should also locate any safety deposit boxes, specialized items like jewelry, artworks, and other properties for safekeeping, followed by a decision on whether or not these should be sold.


Wrapping up the deceased’s affairs

Beyond settling payments, an executor should also settle debts for mortgages, loans, insurance, utilities, and other bills due within a year of the individual’s death. In between these bigger jobs, other details like subscriptions or accounts should be canceled. The deceased’s office and other affairs should also be notified of his or her death.


Distribute Estate Property

After the completion of probate comes the distribution of most of the property to its designated heirs. This includes property, stocks, bonds, cash, and other items of value for the beneficiaries specified in the will. In cases of property left, it should go through the laws of the state and be disposed of accordingly.


If you’re looking for a free will kit maker, try out us today! We make it easy & affordable to make a will.



  1. “Executor - Definition, Examples, Processes.” Legal Dictionary, 13 Aug. 2015,
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What to Prepare Before You Die - Our Guide

Death is not a question of “if,” but “when.” Refusing to think about it does not do anything to stop your inevitable march towards the grave. But what will you do about the loved ones you leave behind? How can they rest assured while you rest in peace? Here are the things you will need to prepare and think about before you die:


1) Draft the contents of your last will and testament


Avoid future bickering among the people you leave behind by writing a last will that clearly specifies who receives what. On a blank piece of paper, write down the properties you will most likely leave behind: your house, your car, your bank accounts, and everything else that your loved ones will find useful. Then, think of the people whom you want to inherit these material possessions. If you want more than one person to inherit your bank accounts and other items with monetary value, you should clearly write how much each person should receive, whether it’s 50:50 or some other form of division. However, material possessions aren’t the only things you can secure with your last will. If you have children, you can spell out who gains custody of them in the case that something happens to you.


2) Identify who your will’s executor and witnesses will be


A will without an executor is only as useful as the paper it is written on. Thus, you need to identify someone whom you can rely upon to enforce your will. That person is called an ‘executor.’ [1] An executor could be a friend, relative, your probate attorney, or an organization such as a charitable foundation. The executor may or may not be an heir to your property, so you have to discuss your executor options with your lawyer. After you die, the court will give the executor the right to handle all affairs related to your property, such as the distribution of the wealth to the heirs you designated and the settlement of your debts.

For as long as you live, your executor can’t touch your property, which is why it is crucial to have one who does not have the motivation to have you die prematurely. This is no joke; wealth can taint even the most devoted saints and revolutionaries. You would also need to have two witnesses who aren’t beneficiaries of your will to have them sign the will under oath. Finally, you need to have the paper notarized by a public notary to go in effect. But before you go to a notary public, you have to consult with a probate attorney to check if the details of your will are legally sound and consistent, and of course, factually reasonable. After all, you can’t let your children “inherit the Earth.”


3) Prepare for your funeral costs


You can’t pay for a funeral service when you’re six feet under. Thus, it’s important to allocate funds that will go to paying for the cremation, purchase of cemetery lot, and other expenses related to your funeral. This way, your family and friends will be able to breathe more easily.

There are insurance companies that offer death benefits, which include paying for your funeral. For starters, you can apply for life insurance in these companies. The regular premium you pay will serve as the funeral funds that your family can access in the future. For added protection, you can make a contract with a funeral company that allows customers to “pre-pay” or pay for the cost of their services even while they are still living.


  1. Government Digital Service. “Wills, Probate and Inheritance.” GOV.UK, GOV.UK, 12 Dec. 2014,
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A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Last Will and Testament

The American Bar Association suggests that there is no fixed formula when it comes to writing a will. However, there are some words and phrases that can notify the probate court that you have included particular required elements in your will. It is crucial that you know how to word a last will and testament so that you will remember to include all the important information in your will. This article will give a step-by-step guide for you to word your last will.


Identify the Document As Your Last Will

Start with a statement that establishes the document as your last will and testament. The typical format is this: “This is the last will and testament of (your name).” This is followed by your full address. Also, you may want to include the date by starting with "Today's date is (the date/month/year).”


Name Your Executor

The next step is to name your executor. You can start a paragraph with “I name (your executor’s name) to be my executor.” If you want to also name an alternate executor, follow this sentence with another which states that you wish your alternate executor to step up when your executor is unable to. As your executor is the one who will be distributing your assets and paying your debts after you pass, make sure that you pick someone you can completely trust.


Give Your Executor Power

Grant your executor the power to clear your debts and distribute your assets by writing a statement. This can be fairly simple. For example, the will of Leonard Calvert, first governor of Maryland, instructed his executor to “take all and pay all.”


Name the Beneficiaries

One of the most important parts of your will is the name of your beneficiaries or the people you wish to leave part or all of your assets with. Make sure that you name each person as specifically as possible by using the full name, address, and relationship to you so that there won’t be any confusion. This is particularly important if some of your beneficiaries share the same first name.


Write a Residuary Clause

Be sure to include a residuary clause, which ensures that any property that you have not specifically mentioned will be covered by your will and can be distributed to the individual you want to have it. According to, a residuary clause may read: "I will, devise, bequeath and give all the rest and remainder of my property and estate of every kind and character, including, but not limited to, real and personal property in which I may have an interest at the date of my death and which is not otherwise effectively disposed of, to (the name of the person to receive any residuary assets)."


Sign and Date Your Will

The final step is to sign and date your will in the presence of at least two witnesses. They should watch you sign your name and write the date, including the day, month, and year. Then, each witness can sign and date the will underneath your signature. Each witness must type in or write a sentence declaring that they know who you are and that they have watched you sign your will. In some states, it may be required for a will to be notarized. Therefore, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced attorney to see whether or not you need a notary present when you and your witnesses sign the will.

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Why Young People Should Consider Writing a Will

It might sound strange to have younger adults think about what they want to happen after their deaths. They may be so far from dying, but it’s an important thing to think about. Young people should be more comfortable with the idea of death since it’s a part of life.

Maybe you don't think about it because you're not married. Maybe you’re not making enough money so you don’t feel like you have to think about where it goes, You may not be worried about your life ending anytime soon. Unfortunately, accidents happen and you don't want to be caught unprepared in case they do. Here’s why it’s a good idea to write a will or at least start considering it:

Entering the military

If you are thinking about joining the military when you’re of age, you should really get your affairs in order. Even if you don't have any major assets, your family members might qualify for benefits when you’re gone. Any money you get from the government will have to go somewhere. So it would be to your beneficiaries’ best interest if you left some instructions regarding that.


Are you about to receive a sizeable inheritance or trust fund? You should make sure that you come up with a plan to distribute that money evenly. Otherwise, it could become a complicated, slow process for any surviving family members.

You have pets

You should make sure to include plans for your pet or pets in your will. If you own any animals such as a cat or dog, you should specify who you want to care for it. Also, leave instructions as to how they’re supposed to do that. You might also want to leave some money behind for the care of that pet. In the sudden event of your death, you’ll want to make sure that your pets have a place to call home. Make sure they are well taken care of even after you’re gone.


If you died and didn't write a will, your estate will be distributed among your family first. This includes any money and possessions in your name. Although they will not be able to obtain them right away. First, they will need to go through a long process which is known as probate. If you had life insurance, your family would not be able to access any of those funds yet. They need to wait until the probate process is complete.

If you want your family to come into their inheritance as soon as possible, look into basic estate planning. This includes filling out important documents. Writing a will should also allow you to hand out your assets to beneficiaries much faster.

Your social media

A lot of people might spend a lot of time online. You might have an account that you want to be closed down or even deleted when you pass away. Do you wish to scrub the internet of your presence or maybe want your computer destroyed after your death? You should specify this in your will so your surviving relatives can carry out these wishes for you.


Whether you want to give your belongings or money away to charity, you should name this organization in your will. Your assets are your belongings, and you have the right to choose what happens to them.



1. “Executor.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Mar. 2019,

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Talking to Your Parents About Their Last Will and Testament - What to Know

Asking your parents about their will and testament might cause them to become a little bit defensive. Death can be a strange conversation to bring up. Your parents might say that it’s none of your business or that you shouldn’t talk about it with them. However, it’s important that you know what their plans are, especially if it involves your attention or if there are duties that you need to tend to. Here are some ways you can speak to them and still sound like you have their best interests at heart:


Estate planning

The first thing you might want to ask is whether your parents have begun any estate planning. If they haven’t, you should try urging them to do so and make it a priority. What happens to your parents’ assets after their death may feel strange to talk about, but family stress might ensue if there is no existing plan.


Who's involved

Your parents might want to involve an outside professional such as a financial advisor or an estate planning lawyer. This is not just about deciding which child gets what, but about which child does what. Choosing an executor for their last will and testament is extremely important; It should be taken seriously since they will need to find someone who is willing and able to grasp the process and coordinate it in good faith.



If one of your parents gets ill, this is where your parents’ IFA needs to be engaged. Find out their current health insurance provisions, what liquid cash assets they might have in their pension or savings plans to fund full-time care, or a nursing home. If a child must quit their full-time job in order to look after a parent, you should know how this affects the income of that child’s family as well as what support they can apply for when taking the role of a full-time carer. If one of your parents gets ill, this is where your parents’ IFA needs to be engaged. Find out their current health insurance provisions as well as what liquid cash assets they might have in their pension or savings plans to fund full-time carer.



You should also find out what your parents’ priorities are when dividing the estate. There are potential tax savings if portions of their wealth are given away as gifts within certain bounds. Perhaps your parents wish to include some kind of charity element in there. This means that all of their assets may not go to their children. Contributions to charity do not only have to be in cash but can also be in the form of property.


One thing that many people struggle with when creating a last will and testament is figuring out how to divide their assets fairly between their children. Your parents are likely to have many different types of assets suitable for different children such as property, vehicles, jewelry, businesses, or shares and businesses, financial investments, pension benefits, or even cash.


Life policy

It is crucial that your parents think about who will inherit the lump sum. It’s good to have a plan for any upcoming years that might lead to a clear understanding between children after they’ve passed.



If your parents have already written a will and put one in place, it is still important for them to revisit and see if any important updates need to be made. Reminding them might be the best thing you do, especially if they meant to give you something but haven’t updated their will since you were a toddler.


1. “Executor.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Mar. 2019,

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Situations That Mean It's Time to Revise Your Last Will and Testament

Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives that we forget where our assets will go after we’re gone. You shouldn’t wait until the last minute to draw up your last will and testament.

This document will affect the status of your assets, life savings, and even your family, so it’s quite important that you put a lot of time and effort into updating your will as often as possible.

Whether you’ve already written one or have recently been through a major life change, you shouldn’t forget to revise your last will and testament

Some situations that will require you to revise your last will and testament:



When you commit to legally binding yourself to another person, make sure to revise your assets and property. Your ideas of who you want your things to end up with might have changed if you recently got married. For instance, if you want to ensure that certain assets will go to your new spouse. You’ll need to update your last will and testament to reflect that.



You’ll need to do the same if and when you file for divorce. If you no longer want to include your former spouse in your will, you’ll definitely need to revise it. That’s the only way you can make sure that your assets and other belongings will go to whoever you really want them to. Begin the process of updating your will soon after you and your spouse call it quits. You won’t have to worry about it anymore after your divorce.



Gaining an additional beneficiary is a huge life event that you’ll want to consider when drawing up your will. For instance, good reasons for revising your will include adopting a child and gaining a stepchild through marriage. When your children begin having children of their own, you may want to add your grandchildren to your will.

Changes in your relationships with certain beneficiaries or death may also make you want to revise your will. This may also apply to any beneficiaries that might have had a change in their own family situation. If the said change affects your assets and belongings in any way, considering the relationship between you and the beneficiaries in question, you need to make a decision regarding any revisions ASAP. This is important if you want to be sure your assets don’t end up with unworthy beneficiaries.


Financial changes

Sudden changes in your financial circumstances will also have an impact on your will. Whether you’ve gained assets, lost them, or came into some belongings important to you. You can specify what you want to be done with them after your death. Any major financial changes in your life should be recorded. Especially if they’ll affect any conditions you previously set in your will.

If you’re looking for a free will kit maker, try out us today! We make it easy & affordable to make a will.


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How to Sign a Will the Right Way - Our Guide

A will is a legal document that allows you to state your wishes and have a say in what happens after your death, specifically on how your property and assets will be distributed. Signing your will is simple enough, but you still have to make sure that you go about it the right way. The process of signing a will before your witnesses is called attestation. Aside from the obvious, which is understanding what is included in your will, there are things that you need to keep in mind before the attestation. This article will be your guide to making sure that you sign a will correctly.


Don’t Forget to Date Your Will

It is crucial that you date your will when signing it. This is to confirm that this document is truly your most recent will. However, keep in mind that it may be possible that a judge may approve a will without a date if the same people benefit as would have benefitted if you had died intestate.


Sign Using Your Usual Signature

If you can no longer sign the way that you used to - perhaps due to old age that causes your hand to be unsteady - you should still sign using your normal signature. Your witnesses will still be able to verify that the signature was really written by you.


Sign Your Name at the Bottom of the Will

Your will needs to be signed at the end of the document. There is no need to sign anywhere else on the document.


You Need Two Witnesses

There need to be two witnesses to confirm that you have signed your will. The reason that you need two witnesses is to make sure that at least one of them can be contacted, is still alive and has not moved overseas. Although having two witnesses from the same family is not against the law, it is still a better idea to have two unrelated people as your witnesses.


Witnesses Should Write Their Names Instead of Autographs

People often assume that witnesses must sign their names by providing an autograph. After all, this is how we do our businesses, from proving identity on a cheque to signing a contract. However, the purpose of having witnesses is to be able to find and reach them if necessary. This means that a legible name that is printed clearly is required so that the witnesses can be identified. Also, writing a name and address by hand will have enough words to allow one to verify the witness from their handwriting, thus preventing fraud in the future. Therefore, make sure that your witnesses write their names down on your will, not their autographs.


Both Witnesses Should Be Present

It should be addressed that your two witnesses need to be present at the same time. [1] This is so that both of them can confirm that they have watched you sign on a will on a specific day and at a specific location. Both of your witnesses should also be able to describe the general circumstances as they remember them. In addition to witnessing you sign your will, the witnesses should see each other sign as well. When everyone’s stories align, everything will be tied together nicely.


1. “US20020019744A1 - Last Will and Testament Service Method, Last Will and Testament Service System, and Storage Medium Storing Programs to Control Same.” Google Patents, Google,

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What You Need After Your Will - Our Guide

Let’s face it, death is unavoidable. We can’t bring our material possessions in the afterlife. If we have assets and properties to leave behind, we want these distributed to our heirs.

This is the reason why a last will and testament has to be written while you are still alive. There are factors that have to be considered when drafting your last will. This includes your age, your marital status, and your children. Your health and general well-being are also important.

It’s best if you’ve already made your last will and testament for many reasons. You need it if you’re already getting old or if you’re in bad shape in terms of health. It’s practical also if you remarried after a divorce and have children from different mothers. This will help to prevent any conflicts among family members and interested parties.

With that being said, we will discuss about the last will. We’ll explain further as to what you need to do after you’ve written your last will.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament is a legal document. It indicates how you, the testator, want your property to be distributed upon your death. The legal document itself enlists the names of those who will serve as executor of the estate. The executor is legally responsible for managing the affairs of the estate. This includes the estate itself until final distribution.

Difference between Last Will and Living Will

As mentioned, a last will basically detail how you want your property to be distributed when you die. On the contrary, a living will provides medical directions you want to be followed. This is used if you become seriously ill or incapacitated.

When diagnosed with serious illness, one of the most practical decisions is to create a living will. It’s not a matter of choosing between a last will and a living will. It’s taking into consideration the need of putting advanced directive in place. It will grant your wish during medical care.

The Need for Power of Attorney or Durable Power of Attorney

It’s important to know the role of a Power of Attorney. POA is a legal document mandating an agent or attorney in fact to have authority to make decisions. They also take actions on behalf of the principal. The POA’s roles are not limited to paying bills. They include assuming financial estate accountability, making real estate transactions and filing tax returns.

Durable Power of Attorney comes in when the principal becomes incapacitated. The POA will soon cease in such a situation, and the Durable POA will take over the legal responsibility.

Furthermore, it is worthy to note that there are other specific types of POA. One is Financial POA with the principal giving the agent the responsibility to manage the financial affairs. In addition, Medical POA is also managed to allow the agent to make medical decisions on the principal’s behalf.



1. “Executor.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Mar. 2019,

2. “Power of Attorney.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 Feb. 2019,

3. “Types of Advance Directives.” American Cancer Society,

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DISCLAIMER: The author, the publisher and the vendor of these forms makes no representations or warranties regarding the outcome or the use to which these forms are put and are not assuming any liability for any claims, losses, or damages arising out of the use of these forms. The user should not rely on the author or the publisher of these forms for any professional advice. Always consult with a lawyer regarding the rules and regulations governing your residing state/province. The information provided is for illustrative purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issues and concerns related to the drafting of wills and other legal documents. Remember that individual situations and estate planning needs differ, and this Kit may not be suitable for your specific circumstances.
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