A lot of people buy Wills online or through Kinkos. But how can you make sure that the Will you bought is valid? Following are formalities and solemnities that are required for a valid Will. For the purpose of this blog post, a testator is the person making a Will in many states like Texas.
- Writing requirement. The Will must be in writing. The Will either has to be entirely typed or entirely in the testator’s handwriting. It cannot be in between.
- Signature requirement. The Will must be signed by the testator. The signature of the testator does not have to be his formal signature. The only requirement for the signature is that the it be a name or mark intended to express approval of the will as the testator’s will. The signature can be located anywhere in the will and not just at the end of the document. Although, traditionally, that is where you will find the signature.
- Witness requirement. If the will is not a holographic will – entirely in testator’s handwriting, it requires two (2) witnesses who are 14 years of age or older to sign the Will in testator’s presence. The witnesses must sign the will itself. They cannot later draft an affidavit stating they were present at the will execution. The witnesses have to be credible. The executor can be a credible witness if the only thing she receives under the Will is compensation for being an executor. A beneficiary under the Will cannot be a credible witness. The witness does not have to have knowledge of the contents of the will. The witnesses do not have to sign in each other’s presence.
- Capacity requirement. Not only does the will you have needs to be executed properly but who can make a will is also a question that must be addressed. To make a will, a person must be at least 18 years of age or older.
- Sound mind requirement. To make a will, a person must be of sound mind. A person is of sound mind if the person has sufficient mental capacity to make a will. The person must understand the he/she is making a will. He/she must know the effect of making a will. The person must understand the nature of property he/she owns. The person must know her next of kin. The person must understand the business to be transacted – making of a will.
If you are unsure if the document you received from online or Kinkos, please contact an experienced estate planning attorney Arlington TX relies on. Not only they can verify what you have is a valid will or not, but can also draft one for you.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into estate planning and wills.