Wills and Trusts:

Requirements

While the formal requirements for wills vary by state, there are some basic guidelines that must be followed in order to a will to be valid. First, you must be of sound mind and body. This means that you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old or legal age for the state or province you are living in or an emancipated minor.

  • Know what a will is.

  • Know that you are making a will.

  • Understand the relationship between yourself and the people who care for you (i.e. immediate family members, including spouse and family).

  • Expressly state that this document is your will.

  • Sign and date the will.

The will must also be signed ("attested") by at least two or three witnesses in order to validate it. The number of required witnesses depends on state or province law. It is recommended the witnesses not be related to you.

Your will must have a substantive provision that:

  • Appoints a guardian for any minor children.
  • Lists who inherits specific items.
  • States what happens to remaining property not specifically mentioned in the will.

You must also appoint an executor who will be responsible for the following:

  • Supervising the distribution of property.
  • Making sure that all your debts and taxes are paid.

It is suggested that if you had previous wills, instructions should be provided as to where they may be located as this will is the only one in operation.

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