Having a valid last will and testament is one of the cornerstones for a well-arranged and thought out estate plan. With a valid will, you can dictate how your assets will be distributed, create trusts, and ensure the stability for your friends and family members after you pass away. When drafting your will, it is essential to make sure that your will meets the requirements for a valid will.
First, the testator has to be a certain age. In order for a testator to create a valid will, he or she must be at least the age of eighteen. The will must also be in writing and signed by the testator’s own hand or at his or her direction, in the case that he or she was not able to sign the will personally. If someone other than the testator signs the will, the signing must be done in the testator’s presence and in the testator’s name. A conservator of the testator can also sign a will on the testator’s behalf if acting as a result of a court order to do so. The will also needs to name specific beneficiaries. The beneficiaries may be anyone or even a charitable institution. The testator is not required to leave anything to his or her children or other relatives, but with few exceptions, the testator will not be able to completely disinherit his or her spouse with a last will and testament.
Another essential requirement is that the testator must have capacity to make the will at the time the will was signed. Capacity refers to the testator’s mental ability to understand his or her assets, identify potential beneficiaries and heirs, and grasp the nature of the act of executing a will. As can sometimes be the case at the end of life, people may be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another disease that disrupts the memory and thinking process. Once that type of disease starts to take hold, the testator likely no longer has the required capacity to execute a valid will. This is just one of the many reasons it is important to draft a valid will earlier rather than later, and not put off this important task.
We have experience helping our clients draft valid wills that help achieve their goals. Call us today for a consultation.