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Who Are the Key Parties in a Will?
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If you’re thinking of writing your Last Will and Testament – and you should because no one can predict the future – you’ll want to know some of the key elements involved. For starters, here are the main parties associated with a Will:
Testator – A testator is the person creating the will.
Executor – As testator, you name an executor to carry out your Will. An executor must pay off your debts, manage your assets until they are disbursed and make sure they are distributed according to your wishes. Most people choose a spouse, adult child or close friend to serve as executor.
Beneficiary – A beneficiary is the party receiving an inheritance, such as cash or property, from the testator. Beneficiaries can be people or organizations.
Guardian – If you have young children, you will need to name a guardian for them in your Will. A guardian provides for a child's personal needs, including shelter, education, and medical care. A guardian may also manage a child's assets, although you can name a second person (often called a guardian of the estate) for this purpose.
Trustee – If your Will establishes a trust to distribute your property, you will need to designate a trustee to manage this trust. You can choose a relative or friend, but you’ll want to pick someone who is capable of making important financial decisions. As an alternative, you could select a corporate trustee, such as a banker or financial advisor.
By understanding the various roles played by participants in your Will, you will be well prepared to create this valuable estate-planning tool, possibly with the help of a legal professional. Get started soon, so you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from providing for your loved ones after you’re gone.