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Is Your Will Valid?

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Congratulations on taking the first step of creating a will. It is a commendable action, as it shows you're proactive about protecting your loved ones. However, it is crucial to understand that merely creating a will is not enough. We strongly urge you to have it reviewed periodically to ensure it aligns with your potentially changing wishes or intentions and holds up as legally valid. Far too often, we witness the aftermath of individuals who believed they had a will in place, only to realize that they did something (many very minor) wrong, leaving their families to face the fallout, confusion, and complications that follow.

The validity of a will hinges on the laws of the state in which you reside at the time of your passing, as last will and testament regulations differ from state to state. While specific requirements may vary, most states share certain criteria that must be met for a will to be legally binding.

The Essential Requirements

Firstly, you must be at least 18 years old or an emancipated minor to create a legally valid will. Age plays a crucial role in ensuring that you have the necessary maturity and legal capacity to make decisions regarding your estate (and at 18, we all legally have an “estate”).

Secondly, you must be of sound mind when creating your will. It is vital to have a clear understanding of your intentions for your assets (regardless if you have “a lot”), who you want to be your beneficiaries and the nature of your relationship with them.

Additionally, you must either sign the will yourself or direct someone else to sign it on your behalf if you are physically incapable of doing so. This signature serves as a critical element of confirming your endorsement of the document.

Furthermore, the signing process must involve at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. Although some states may allow one witness to be a beneficiary, it is crucial to have an impartial witness present to validate the will's authenticity.

Is a Will Sufficient?

While a will serves as the foundation of an estate plan, it may not provide comprehensive protection for your wishes. A will alone cannot keep your assets out of court, nor does it address the issue of incapacity. Moreover, relying solely on a will does not guarantee that your loved ones will receive your assets protected from unnecessary conflicts or creditors.

To ensure the legal validity of your will and the comprehensive protection of your wishes, we strongly recommend consulting with a lawyer. Our team can review your will, ensuring its compliance with state laws, and evaluate your entire estate plan. This comprehensive approach ensures that your wishes are protected not only in the event of your incapacity but also upon your passing, providing for your family according to your desires.

Don't settle for false security when it comes to your will. Seek the guidance of legal professionals who can provide the expertise and support needed to safeguard your intentions and the well-being of your loved ones.

Given the complexities and potential pitfalls surrounding will validity, seeking professional legal guidance is crucial. An experienced estate planning attorney can help navigate the intricate process of drafting and executing a will, ensuring compliance with legal requirements. By enlisting the expertise of a professional, you can safeguard your testamentary intentions, minimize the risk of disputes, and provide your loved ones with true peace of mind.

A false sense of security can plague individuals who assume their wills are automatically valid. It is essential to understand the legal complexities and potential vulnerabilities that can compromise the legitimacy of a will. By addressing the factors that may cast doubt on will validity, individuals can proactively protect their testamentary intentions and ensure that their wishes are upheld. Seek professional guidance to navigate the intricacies of will execution, safeguard your legacy, and provide your loved ones with genuine security in an uncertain world.

About the Author

Leslie has been practicing law since 2009 and is the host of the estate planning podcast 'Legacy Purse'. She has a long history of representing family members struggling to inherit property and/or wealth from deceased family members through the Probate Courts. Knowing how time-consuming and expensive the probate process is, Leslie takes great pride in helping her clients learn how to plan and protect their families during their lives so they can avoid the probate court process and save their loved ones that additional grief (and expense).


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