A will is an important part of any estate plan and there are a variety of legal requirements for a will to be valid that estate planners should be familiar with. The requirements are not the same in every state which is why it is exceptionally important for estate planners to be familiar with the legal requirements they need to meet for their will to be valid where they live.
To begin with, for a will to be valid, the estate planner must be of legal age to execute a will. The legal age is usually 18 years old. Next, the estate planner must have testamentary capacity to execute a will. Testamentary capacity requires that the estate planner is of sound mind; understands that they are making a will and the effect of the will; understands the nature and extent of their estate; and understands that the will disposes of their property and assets. In addition, the estate planner must intend to execute a will and that their will disposes of their property and assets.
In addition to being of legal age, possessing testamentary capacity and having the intent to execute a will, the estate planner must also execute their will voluntarily. There cannot be any undue influence or duress in the formation or execution of the estate planner’s will for it to be considered valid. Lastly, there are also witness and signature requirements for a will to be valid that may also vary by state but generally require that the estate planner has two disinterested witnesses to witness the signing of their will.
A will is a foundational component of an estate plan which is why it is essential for it to be valid. Because there can be complexities associated with the process of executing a will, estate planners need to know how they can ensure their will is valid and meets all legal requirements needed for a valid will.