A will is an important component of an estate plan that is used to distribute the estate planner’s property and assets according to their wishes. During the estate planning process, making sure the will is valid is crucial.

Requirements for a valid will

Estate planner should know what makes a valid will so they can ensure their will complies with all of the requirements.

  • Legal capacity: Legal capacity refers to the legal age that is required for the estate planner to execute a will. The legal age to execute a will is commonly 18 years old.
  • Testamentary capacity: Testamentary capacity refers to the estate planner having a sound mind when they execute their will. Having a sound mind means that the estate planner knows that they are executing a will and understands the impact of the will; understand the nature and extend of their estate; and understands that they are disposing of their property and assets using the will.
  • Voluntary: The estate planner must execute their will voluntarily. If there is any undue influence, coercion or duress in the making or executing the will, it may call the validity of the will into question.
  • Intent: The estate planner must have the intent to dispose of their property and assets using their will.
  • Signature and witness requirements: It is important for a will to be valid to meet signature and witness requirements where it is executed. Because not all signature and witness requirements are the same everywhere, estate planners should know what the requirements are in their state and ensure they are met when they are executing their will. It is not an uncommon signature and witness requirement that the will be signed and dated in front of two disinterested witnesses. It is important that the witnesses not have an interest in the will if they are acting as witnesses.

How it helps in the long run

Having a valid will is a core component of most estate plans. For that reason, and for the peace of mind of the estate planner and their family members and loved ones, it is important to ensure that the requirements for a will to be valid are met.