A huge part of planning your estate is creating a will. However, most people do not really know how to go about doing this. After all, it is not something you do every day. What is it that makes a will legal? This guide will explain everything you need to know about putting a will together and making sure it is legal. However, you should not rely on this guide entirely. It is highly advisable that you speak with an estate planning attorney, to get help putting your affairs in order.
What Makes a Will Legal?
The first thing you should understand about the laws surrounding wills is that they vary slightly from one state to the next. Before you do anything, you should either research the laws in your state or ask an attorney about them. Most of the time, there are only two things needed for a will to be legal:
- Two witnesses’ signatures
- The signature and date of the estate owner
If a will has these two things, it is considered legal. However, there is another aspect you need to address to be sure your legal will can be executed. Every will needs an executor. This is a person who ensures the will is carried out and all the final wishes of the deceased are honored. Your will needs to name who its executor is. Then, you need to keep your will in a safe and accessible location. Finally, your executor needs to know where your will is. It may be a good idea to file your will with your state for safekeeping, although this is not strictly necessary. One final thing to keep in mind is that the witnesses to your will cannot benefit from the will in any way. Working with an attorney will make it much easier to create a will.
If you do not have many possessions, you can opt to create a holographic will instead. This is a simpler version of a will that is only allowed in about 25 of the 50 US states. Holographic wills do not need witnesses to sign it. However, the courts scrutinize holographic wills more strictly to be certain nothing fishy is going on. This results in longer probate most of the time. Having a holographic will is not a good alternative if your estate is sizable, but it can be beneficial for people who do not want to stress about putting a full will together for their minimal estate.