last will and testament

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An antiquated term that refers to the document written by a testator that details what is to happen to property owned by that testator upon death. This term is still frequently used in an interchangeable way to mean a will, though to be precise a last will and testament refers to the most recent version of a will. A will can confer rights or ownership over real property or personal property and can also be used to appoint legal guardians, but only takes effect once the testator dies. When a will only deals with real property, it may be called a devise, and when a will only deals with personal property, it may be called a testament. If a decedent does not leave a last will and testament, their assets will be administered by a probate court.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]