A valid will is a cornerstone of any thorough estate plan. Because a will provides peace of mind for estate planners and their families, it is essential to understand what makes a will valid and ensure those requirements are met when the estate planner is setting up their will.
Requirements for a valid will
There are several will requirements that must be complied with for a will to be considered valid including:
- Legal age – the estate planner must be of legal age to make their will which usually refers to them being over the age of 18.
- Testamentary capacity – the estate planner must have testamentary capacity to enter into a will which refers to them being of sound mind; understanding the nature and extent of their estate; and that they are making a will to dispose of property and assets and the estate planner must also understand the effect of the will.
- Intent – the estate planner must have intent to enter into a will.
- Voluntary – the estate planner must also voluntarily enter into the will which means if there is any undue influence, coercion or duress in the formation of the will it may be considered invalid.
- Proper disposal of property – the will must properly dispose of all of the estate planner’s assets and property to their beneficiaries which are usually the friends and family members they name in their will.
- Witness and signature requirements – certain witness and signature requirements must be met which can be different in different states. Generally, two witnesses will need to sign the will for it to be valid but estate planners should familiarize themselves with the requirements in their state.
A valid will has many components to it that estate planners should be familiar with. Ensuring their will is valid can help estate planners accomplish their wishes for the distribution of their assets and property when they are gone.