Wills commonly serve as a cornerstone for an overall estate plan. Because of how important a valid will is, it is equally important for estate planners to know what makes a will valid and the requirements their will must meet.

There are several requirements wills must meet to be considered valid. The importance of having a valid will cannot be overstated as a valid will can help ensure the estate planner’s desires are carried out and that family members are cared for according to how the estate planner intended. To begin with, for the will to be valid, the estate planner must be of legal age to enter into the will which is usually 18 years old.

What is testamentary capacity?

In addition to having legal capacity to enter into a will, the estate planner must also have what is referred to as testamentary capacity to enter into a will. Testamentary capacity requires that the estate planer understands that they are making a will; the effect of the will; the nature and extent of their estate; and that the will is disposing of their property and assets. The estate planner must have the intent to make a will and must do so voluntarily. It is important that there is no duress or undue influence involved in the execution of the will.

Lastly, there are important witness and signature requirements that can be different in different states so estate planners also need to be familiar with the legal requirements to execute a will in their state. There are also specific requirements for updating and making changes to a will. Because it is essential for a valid will to be properly executed, estate planners need to be familiar with the requirements for a valid will where they live.