Smart Quiz: For a Will to be Valid, What Legal Entity do you Have to Hire to Create it? >>
a. Legal Zoom
b. A Lawyer
c. A Judge
d. Not Any
Answer: Not Any
While emotions may run high during the process, creating a will doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Many people believe that for a will to be valid, it has to be created by a lawyer or legal service. That simply isn’t true. Some people may need a lawyer to help with more complicated estates, but it’s often easier and more affordable for most people to simply create their own.
In order for any will to be considered valid, it must meet the following criteria:
- The person creating the will (the testator) must be at least 18 years old.
- The testator must have “testamentary capacity.” This means they must be of sound mind, understand that they are making a will, and understand the nature of the estate and how they are distributing it.
- The testator must sign the will and must do so voluntarily and free of coercion.
- In addition to being signed by the testator, the will must also include the signatures of at least two witnesses.
- The witnesses must be disinterested parties, or people who will not benefit from the will in any way.
Note: Every state’s laws are different, so it’s important to make sure there are no other state-specific requirements that need to be met.
The distribution of property is at the discretion of the person who creates the will. It is important to make sure the will not only includes their desires for the distribution of property, but instructions on how to find important documents such as life insurance, investment and bank accounts, real estate documents, and who should care for minor children if there are any involved.
The will must also name a person who will serve as an executor to pay any outstanding liabilities, sell assets and distribute the remainder of the estate to the designated heirs.
Free help online:
Websites like Legal Zoom, Legacy Writer, and NOLO are all great places to start for people who need help creating a will. There are a number of free templates available online as well. If in doubt, anyone writing a will should have a legal advisor review the document they’ve created to ensure it meets the legal requirements of their state; and remember, even though a lawyer isn’t required, you can certainly use one if it adds to your peace of mind.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!