How To Make A Will: The different types of wills and how to make sure yours is legal.

What makes a Will Valid: Creating a legal will

This article will guide you in how to make a will. There comes a time in every persons life where the realization hits that it may be time to create a will. The purpose of a will is to make sure that the property your have goes to the people you wish for it to go to when you pass away. A proper will gives you the ability to select who will inherit your property, who the executor will be of your estate, and if necessary who should be the guardian of your children.

How to make a will: Creating a legal will

There are generally three types of wills, holographic, oral, and written and witnessed wills.

How to make a will: Holographic:

  • Holographic wills are wills that are made in the the person writing the will (known as the testator) own handwriting and no other person is their to witness its creation. For a holographic will to be valid it must contain only the testators writing, be signed by the testator (nicknames and initals are adequate), and specifically indicate how they wan their property distributed and to which beneficiaries. Any changes to a holographic will after the will is signed and completed will not be accepted by the court.

How to make a will: Oral:

  • Oral wills are generally not recognized by any state or court in the United States. When they are recognized they are only done so for the distribution of personal property and only if done by military personnel (soldiers or sailors in war) or a person facing immediate death. Even then, two witnesses are required for the oral will to be valid.

How to make a will: Attested Legal Will:

For a will to be valid in the United States the writer of th wi should be a minimum of 18 years old and have capacity (being of sound mind).  If a will is missing any of the following elements it will not be valid unless the court determines that there is clear and convincing evidence that the testator intended, the document to be his will. A will is revocable at any time during the lifetime of the testator. A codicil (supplement or change) to the will is also acceptable and if done so must be a new addition or creation of the will and must be signed and witnessed as well. Any changes on the face of a will without the appropriate codicil is considered an invalid change and the original will should rule. The will must have the following components:

  • Testator must sign it, in the presence of two attesting witnesses
  • The two witnesses must also sign in the testator’s presence
    • Participating via computer or telephone is not considered being present.
    • If one of the witnesses is an heir or benefitting rom the will the beneficiary witness losses legacy unless there are 2 other disinterested attesting witness or if the beneficiary witness would have inherited regardless intestate.
    • A notary can be used instead of witnesses as well
  • Indicate how the testator’s property will be distributed.
  • Some states also have strict requirements that the testator:
    • Sign at the end on the will only
    • Publish the will (inform the witnesses that the document they are signing is a will)
    • The witnesses must sign in the presence of each other too.
  • We highly recommend that you talk to an attorney about creating your will. Those who tend to create their own wills.

How To Make A Will: Additional Information.

If you want information on how to make sure your will’s format is correct check AARP’s guide here.

We also advise you to be careful in regards to documents from legal zoom (a site which claims has legal documents), as many of them are not comprehensive or legally valid in some states. However, we like to inform our users about all the information at their disposal. You can find the legal zoom document overview here.

If you want information on what happens if you pass away without a will check out our article Dying Without A Will: A comprehensive Guide


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