Having peace of mind that an estate planner’s will is valid is important for estate planners because they are using their will to dispose of their property and assets to their loved ones. As long as estate planners understand the importance of a will, and the components that make up a valid will, they can rest more easily that their estate plan will accomplish their wishes.
Components of a valid will
There are several requirements for a will to be valid that estate planners should be familiar with when setting up their estate plan and executing their will. Requirements include:
- Legal capacity: estate planners must have legal capacity to enter into a will which usually means that the estate planner is 18 years old or older.
- Testamentary capacity: the estate planner must also have testamentary capacity to enter into a will which requires that the estate planner be of sound mind. Sound mind requires that the estate planner knows they are making a will, understands the effect of the will, understands the nature and extent of their estate and that they are using the will to dispose of their property and assets.
- Intent: the estate planner must have the intent to enter into a will and have the intent to make a revocable disposition of their property and assets.
- Voluntary: the estate planner must enter into the will voluntarily; any undue influence, coercion or duress in the formation of the will may call into question its validity later on.
- Witness and signature requirements: the estate planner must meet witness and signature requirements where they are executing their will for their will to be valid. These requirements can vary by state so the estate planner should ensure their will complies. Oftentimes the requirement includes that the estate planner signs the will in front of two witnesses that do not have an interest in the will who must also sign the will.
The purpose of estate planning and a will is to ensure the estate planner’s wishes are carried out and their loved ones are cared for. For that reason, estate planners should be know what the requirements for a valid will are.