While it is true the last will and testament is a fine way to divide our assets among those we leave behind, it also tends to leave a lot of legal essentials out. If that happens, then often the beneficiaries need to undergo probate in court to validate the will.
Legal requirements of a valid will:
The more money you have, the more people suddenly claim to be a relative or to know you because they want to get a piece of the cake. As the testator or the one who is drafting the will, you want to make sure you protect the interests of your loved ones by ensuring the validity of the will.
- Legal and mental capacity of the testator: For you to be a legal testator, you must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind at the date of signing your will. It may be possible to have a testator with impaired mental function to still sign the will if they are able to understand and acknowledge what they are signing.
- A written will: A will can be either handwritten or type-written, but an oral will is not valid in court. If you need to make any changes to your will, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your will is legally substantiated.
- Witnesses: You must have at least two witnesses sign the will. These witnesses must have no personal interest in your will. They will be there to attest that you were of sound mind in the moment of signing. Any changes in the will also need the signatures of the witnesses.
- Beneficiaries: Your will needs to contain a clear provision that declares exactly who will inherit what of your assets. Every beneficiary must be wholly and undoubtedly identified. Minor beneficiaries require the name and information of a legal guardian.
- Language: One of the most common ways someone can contest your will is by declaring that it is subject to many misinterpretations. The language should be detailed and explicit.
You must meet all the legal conditions listed above so that your beneficiaries will avoid probate.
Consider hiring an estate planning attorney
As you see, so much goes into creating a legally valid will. With an experienced attorney you can make a comprehensive estate plan that covers all areas of conflict. You have worked tirelessly to accumulate this wealth; do not let the vultures have a piece. The people you love deserve their fair and just desserts.