The components of a valid will, and knowledge of them, are important. Estate planners should be familiar with these requirements so they can rest confident that they have a valid will to distribute their property and assets and carry out their wishes when the time comes.
Elements of a valid will
There are several requirements that wills must meet to ensure their validity. These requirements can help guide the execution of the will and include:
- Legal capacity – the estate planner must be of legal age to validly execute a will. This requirement is usually met if the testator is 18 years old or older.
- Testamentary capacity – testamentary capacity requires that the estate planner must be of sound mind. Sound mind typically is considered to include that the estate planner knows they are making a will and understands the effect of the will; that the estate planner understands the nature and extent of their estate; and that the estate planner understands that they are disposing of their property and assets using the will to do so.
- Intent – the estate planner must have the intent for the will to dispose of their property and assets for it to be considered valid.
- Voluntary – the estate planner must voluntarily execute their will which means there cannot be any undue influence, duress or coercion for the will to be considered valid.
- Signature and witness requirements – the estate planner’s will must meet signature and witness requirements where they are executing it. These requirements can vary bust usually requires the estate planner to sign the will in front of two disinterested witnesses who must also sign the will.
Estate planning helps estate planners and their families plan for the future. To be able to rely on their estate plan, estate planners should ensure it includes the appropriate components and that their will is valid.