Testacy refers to the legal condition of a deceased person having a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death.
When an individual "dies testate," it means that at the time of their death, they had created a will that outlines how they would like to distribute their Assets to their Surviving Family, as well as other details about how to Administer their Estate.
Key points about testacy include:
Testate vs. Intestate: When a person dies testate, they had a valid will in place; conversely, when a person dies Intestate, it means they did not have a valid will created at the time of their death. In this case, the deceased's estate will be Administered according to state Probate laws, otherwise known as the Laws of Intestacy.
Will Content: A valid will typically specifies how the deceased person's assets and property should be distributed among Beneficiaries. It may also appoint an Executor to carry out the provisions of the will, and other matters such as the care of minor children or the naming of guardians.
Probate Process: When an individual dies testate, the probate process involves validating the will's authenticity in Probate Court by confirming that it meets state legal requirements, and then executing the instructions outlined in the will.
Probate Court: State Probate Court oversees the probate process for a testate estate to ensure that the will is properly executed, debts and taxes are paid, and assets are distributed in accordance with the deceased person's wishes.
Executor: The individual named as the Executor in the will is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will, including distributing assets, paying the deceased's Debts and taxes, and managing the estate's affairs.
Challenges and Contests: Even when a person dies testate, challenges to the validity of the will may arise. Probate court will hear these challenges and remedy them according to state law. If the court determines that the will is not valid, the estate may be treated as intestate, and it will be administered according to state probate laws.
It's important for surviving family who want to ensure that assets are distributed according to the wishes of their loved one to work with an Estate Attorney or Probate Attorney to help prevent complications and disputes during the probate process.