What Legal Implications Are There to Signing a Final Will?

by A.L. Kennedy
Signing your final will changes who gets your property when you die.

Signing your final will changes who gets your property when you die.

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Your final will is a document that allows you to name the people who should get your property, including your money and any real estate, after your death. If you die intestate, or without a will, the laws of your state say who should get your property. The legal implications to signing your final will include that your will changes who will get your property.

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Intestacy

If you die without a will, you are said to have died intestate. If you die intestate, the laws of your state will determine who gets your property. Usually, only direct family members like your current spouse, children and parents may receive your property under intestacy laws, according to the American Bar Association. Also, many states have rules about what portion of the property a certain relative gets if the property passes by intestacy. When you sign your will, you change who will get your property, and how much, from the state's rules to your own.

Executor

In your will, you may choose to name an executor, also known as a personal representative in some states. Your personal representative or executor is the person who will take charge of your affairs after you die. She is responsible for paying any debts you left behind, managing your property so it does not lose value and giving your property in the correct amounts to the people listed in your will. State law allows probate courts to appoint an executor for your estate if you die intestate. By signing your final will, you are arranging for the person you choose to be your personal representative, or executor.

Guardian

If you have minor children, your final will affects not only what they will receive from your property when you die, but it may also affect who will take care of them. You may wish to name a guardian for your children in your will. The person you name will be legally responsible for caring for your children, raising them and paying for their basic needs until they turn 18, though you can also leave money to pay your children's expenses, according to FindLaw. If you die intestate, the court will appoint a guardian for your children, so signing your final will gives you the legal power to name a guardian instead of the court.

Invalid Wills

When you sign your final will, you must meet your state's requirements to make a legal will, or your will may be found invalid by a probate court. In most states, the only requirements are that the person making the will be at least 18 years old and "of sound mind," which means she is capable of understanding the legal implications of signing her final will. If you are physically incapable of signing but are mentally able to tell someone else to sign your will for you, most states will allow this substitute signature to make your will as valid as if you had signed it yourself.