Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Nebraska wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating valid Nebraska wills and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Nebraska last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements of a Nebraska Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years of age or married.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: A Nebraska last will and testament must be signed by the testator or in the testator's name by some other individual in the testator's conscious presence and under the testator's direction.
Witnesses: A Nebraska last will and testament must be signed by at least two individuals (who are not beneficiaries in the will), each of whom signed after either witnessing the testator signing the will or witnessing the testator's acknowledgment of his or her signature or the will.
Writing: A Nebraska last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A Nebraska last will and testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic wills: Under certain requirements provided by Nebraska laws, a handwritten will may be recognized. However, the legal requirements for a handwritten will are specific and need to be strictly followed in order to deem the will valid.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Nebraska laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Nebraska wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Nebraska wills form may be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.
Our Nebraska wills form may also pass on property to a charity.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes on to the surviving owner.
A beneficiary in a life insurance policy may not be changed through a will.
If a spouse is excluded from the will, the surviving spouse may take a portion (an "elective share") of the estate within a certain period of time as allowed by Nebraska laws.
Providing for Pets
Nebraska law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet. Legalzoom's Nebraska wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Nebraska will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Nebraska will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Nebraska probate laws.
Revoking a Will
A Nebraska will and testament or any part of a will is revoked:
1) by a subsequent will which revokes the prior will or contains different terms than the original will; or
2) by being burned, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking it by the testator or by another person in the presence of and by the direction of the testator.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Nebraska last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Nebraska last will.
Nebraska imposes an inheritance and estate tax. The inheritance tax is class based and depends on who and what property is received. The estate tax encompasses the Federal estate tax credit, and therefore no additional estate tax is due. After January 2003, the estate tax has been decoupled from the Federal estate tax system. Consequently, Nebraska estate taxes may still be owed even if no Federal estate taxes are due. The taxes owed on your estate from probate of your Nebraska last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make a Nebraska will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Nebraska laws.
For example, your spouse will receive the entire estate if you have no surviving parents or children. If you leave no surviving spouse and only children, then your children will share the estate in equal amounts.
If you make a Nebraska will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.