|Dear Barbara. Based on our understanding of the applicable law we provide you with the following information:
Requirements for Executing a Valid Will
A last will must be properly executed (signed) in order to be legal and valid.
The first most basic requirement of a valid last will is that it must be in writing.
The second requirement is that last will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses (three in Vermont) who are not beneficiaries (will not receive property) under the will.
Ideally, the signature must be the same legal signature that you would use on any other legal documents with your full legal name. If you are unable to sign your will we suggest you consult with a local attorney about properly executing your will.
The third requirement is that the person signing the last will must be of sound mind and at least 18 years of age.
A final requirement is that there are witnesses to the signing of the will.
A will does not need to be notarized in order to be legally and validly executed.It is also not a requirement that the executed will be filed with a court or any other body. Finally, it is not a requirement that a properly signed self-proving affidavit accompany a will in order for the will to be validly executed.
All states require that there be two witnesses to the signing of a will, except Vermont, which requires three witnesses to validate a will. They may be called upon to testify after your death to “prove” your last will. To be competent as witnesses, they must be over the age of 18 and must have the mental capacity to know that they are acting as witnesses to the will and would be competent to testify regarding the signing of the will.
In addition, the witnesses should be totally “disinterested” in the will. Witnesses should be carefully selected for their independence and credibility.
Executing the Last Will:
Prepare by printing the entire will.
Gather your witnesses along with the unsigned will for your will execution ceremony. State in a voice that is clearly audible to all of the witnesses that you declare this (the unsigned document) to be your will and that you are asking the two persons present (three in Vermont) to act as witnesses to the will and to your signature.
After declaring the document to be your will, and asking the persons present to act as witnesses, initial each page of the will in the space provided at the lower right hand corner of each page then sign the will in the space provided in full view of the witnesses. Be sure that the will is also dated and that the place of execution has been entered.
The witnesses should then sign the will in the spaces provided immediately below the testator’s signature. Sign only one copy of the will.
If a self-proving affidavit is also being signed at this time, a notary must also be present for the signing to acknowledge all of the signatures on the affidavit.
After the last will is executed, it should be placed in a safe place known to others. It’s highly recommended to make photocopies of the will and make these copies available to select people, such as the individuals or organizations named as fiduciaries.
Because of the likelihood that you will make changes to your will in the future, you should be wary of providing copies of it to all of the beneficiaries. You should review your will periodically, especially when your family or economic circumstances change substantially.
Please be advised that Legal Helpmate Corp is not a law firm and we do not give legal advices to the public.