A will is an important part of most estate plans. Because it is typically a foundational component of the estate planner’s estate plan, and of achieving their wishes, estate planners should be familiar with the requirements for a will to be valid.
What makes a will valid?
- Legal capacity – legal capacity to enter into a will typically means that the estate planner is over the age of 18.
- Testamentary capacity – testamentary typically refers to the estate planner being of sound mind to enter into the will. Sound mind usually includes that the estate planner knows that they are making a will and understand the impact of the will; the nature and extent of their estate; and the they are disposing of their property and assets using the will.
- Intent – the estate planner must have intent to enter into a will and to dispose of their property and assets through the will.
- Voluntary – a will must be entered into voluntarily. There must be no undue influence, duress or coercion for the will to be valid.
- Witnesses and signature requirements – there are commonly witness and signature requirements associated with a will that must be fulfilled according to the laws in the state where the will is being executed. Estate planners need to be familiar with these requirements in their state and ensure they fulfill them for their will to be valid.
There are several components of a valid will that estate planners should ensure they are fulfilling when they are drafting and executing their will. Confidence that their will will not be considered invalid can help provide valuable peace of mind for estate planners setting up their will and estate plan.