A will is a legal declaration by the testator to bequeath his property to selected beneficiaries upon his death. In this regard, it is important to note that a person may die testate or intestate. Testacy is defined as a condition whereby a person dies and leaves a valid will that determines the distribution of his property whereas intestacy is a condition whereby the owner of an estate dies without a valid will or leaves a will that merely disposes of a part of his estate.
In this regard, it is important to distinguish between a valid and invalid will in order to ensure that the one left behind by the testator is legally enforceable. There are common characteristics that will enunciate the validity of a will and thereby you have to be mindful of such features as you critique any testamentary documents. These characteristics are elucidated as follows;
A will takes effect after death
It is widely known that a testamentary document will only come into effect upon the death of the maker. Therefore, in as long as the testator lives the beneficiaries cannot exercise any rights of ownership on the property. Such characteristic is demonstrated by a clause in the instrument that confers the property to the beneficiaries upon death. Without reference to death then the will cannot be said to be valid. A will that bequeaths property before death is invalid in as far as that gift is concerned.
A will is ambulatory
The fact that a will takes effect upon the death of a testator means that the owner of the estate is at liberty to alter clauses during his lifetime. Similarly, the testator can also revoke the will in favor of a new one or none at all.
A valid will must be witnessed by two or more competent witnesses. A competent witness is defined as an adult of sound mind that does not have any interest in the testamentary document. In this regard, a beneficiary in a will does not qualify as a competent witness. The attesting witnesses must willfully append their signatures after the testator.
This is a legal term that is used to describe the mental aptitude of the person making a will. Different jurisdictions have various requirements regarding testamentary capacity, but the common requirements include the fact that testator has to be a person of a sound and disposing mind. Also, the will must be made devoid of undue influence and duress.
Many common legal structures are available for you to set your business up under. The one that you end up choosing depends on the kind of business you want to set up, other individuals or parties involved in the business with you, your personal preferences among other numerous factors. Below is an overview of the options you can choose from:
This is the most popular type of business structure especially for small businesses that are just getting started. This implies that one individual owns and is responsible for the business. They have the right to make every decision, but they also shoulder all the financial responsibilities. The profits or losses generated from the business are reported on the sole proprietor’s personal taxes.
This type of legal structure is so similar to a sole proprietorship, except that there is the presence of more than individual involved in the ownership and operations of the business. The business is still connected to you but also to your business partners as well. This implies that you are all involved in the management and financial responsibilities of the business.
Corporations (LTD or INC)
Corporations are entities that are created and do businesses on their own, separate from any individual on a personal level. This implies that the financial condition of the business does not roll over to the individual who owns the business. Though this may look like the appropriate option to avoid personal liability if anything happens to the business, it can be so complex and costly to start and maintain. It is not advisable for small business owners to utilize this option because many of them cannot afford the setup fees or the maintenance of the records that are required.
Limited liability company/corporation (LLC)
This type of business structure is fairly new and very common because it offers the benefits of a corporation and it does not entail a lot of hassles. Unlike a limited liability partnership, you can start this type company with only one individual. It offers most of the financial protection of a corporation, but it does not need that much extensive measures when it comes to upkeep.
Limited liability partnership (LLP)
This is a different kind of partnership, but it also offers some of the financial protection of a corporation. Unlike an LLC business structure, you are required to have at least two partners. However, it is simpler to keep and maintain your structure than an LLC. This type of business structure is much popular in the United Kingdom, while LLCs are more common in the United States.