Alexandria, VA Estate Planning Blog

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Last Will & Testament: Execution Requirements

The most difficult document to execute properly is a Last Will & Testament. In addition, because Wills may pass a lifetime of earnings to a persons most cherished loved ones, it is also the most important. 

Amazingly, many people fail to execute a Last Will & Testament or fail to hire an attorney to draft the document. Unless you are a competent estate planning attorney, you should not draft a Will. Also, it is exceedingly foolish to use a Will from a form book or online store. 

If you have a Will executed from a form book, or online, you should ensure that the following will execution requirements are fulfilled. Notwithstanding, the Will may be nonetheless still invalid or ineffective.  

Last Will & Testament Execution Requirements

No will shall be valid unless it is in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person in the testator's presence and by his direction, in such a manner as to make it manifest that the name is intended as a signature.

Holographic Wills

A will wholly in the testator's handwriting is valid without further requirements, provided that the fact that a will is wholly in the testator's handwriting and signed by the testator is proved by at least two disinterested witnesses.

Non-Holographic Wills

A will not wholly in the testator's handwriting is not valid unless the signature of the testator is made, or the will is (i) acknowledged by the testator, (ii) in the presence of at least two competent witnesses, (iii) who are present at the same time and (iv) who subscribe the will in the presence of the testator. No form of attestation of the witnesses shall be necessary.

Failure to duly execute a Last Will & Testament in accordance with the aforementioned requirements may result in the Will being invalid. Sometimes a Will that fails to satisfy the requirements may be saved, but the costs in doing so may be exorbitant. 

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