Making Your Will Valid

Last wills and testaments, or simply wills, come in different forms. Make sure your will is properly executed so your estate is distributed and handled as you wish upon your death including guardianship of your minor children, and who should manage the administration of your estate.

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For a will to be valid the testator must know the property he or she has and what it means to leave it to someone. They must have testamentary capacity and be 18 years of age or older. The testator must create and sign the will voluntarily.

After the will has been written it must then be signed, dated, and witnessed. Two witnesses are required, neither of whom should be beneficiaries of the will.

Holographic, or handwritten, wills do not need to be witnessed. While holographic wills are allowed in many states, they are much more likely to be challenged. Different states have different requirements for holographic wills from how much of it must be handwritten to whether it has to be signed and dated.

Only a few states allow oral wills also known as nuncupative wills. The various requirements of oral wills vary by state. In Massachusetts they are only valid for a soldier on active duty or a mariner at sea. Oral wills come with risks.

Video wills on their own are not valid. They may be recognized in some states as oral wills if they meet all the requirements. They can be a very useful tool to record a will signing. It can serve to document your mental capacity and that you are signing your will voluntarily thus preventing a will contest.

It is prudent to consult with an estate planning attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws in your state to ensure that you have a valid will. You want to make sure upon your death that your wishes are carried out and as smoothly as possible.