The most recent Will prevails, but it is common practice that there is a statement explicitly revoking all previous Wills and Codicils. A Codicil is an amendment to the original Will.
Appointment of Executor and Trustee
The testator names Executors and Trustees. The Executor is the person who carries out the terms of the Will. A Trustee is the one who manages any trusts established by the Will. Frequently the Executor and Trustee are the same people, but they don’t have to be. Sometimes they are not people at all, but a company or bank.
Bequests and Devises
A Bequest or a Legacy is a gift set out in the Will. It can be money, jewelry, or any property. Usually it is given only if the beneficiary is still living. If the beneficiary has died before the Testator, then the bequest becomes part of the whole estate. A Devise is a gift of real property (land) and, again, normally it will become a part of the entire estate if the beneficiary
Predeceases the Testator
Practical advice about bequests is that they be only significant property, usually having a sentimental value. If there are lots of Bequests, there can be much confusion, especially if the particular piece is no longer owned at the time of death. It is better to prepare a Memorandum of Wishes or memorandum of Direction. This is a separate document that is stored with the Will that lists all those distributions. While it is not binding, it is a guide for the Executor.
The “residue” is everything that is left after all debts, expenses, taxes and fees are paid and all Bequests have been distributed. The Will names those beneficiaries who are entitled to a share. The shares are usually named in percentages or portions. If for some reason the residue is not specified, it will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy.
Guardians of minor children
The Testator may appoint a Custodian for minor children and Guardian of the child’s property. However, these appointments are only effective for 90 days. The Custodian(s) and Guardian(s) have to apply to the Court for permanent appointment. The Court will consider all the circumstances and will rule in the best interests of the child.
A Trust is legal ownership of property that a Trustee cares for and manages for the beneficiaries. Established under a Will, the testator gives property to a beneficiary, but limits how the beneficiary may use the property. Commonly Testamentary Trusts are established for:
> Maintenance and education of minors
> Maintenance of a spouse during lifetime and then to whom the funds are distributed afterwards