By now you have come to realise the importance of making a will and planning how your estate is distributed after you die. So, if making a will is so easy why do people still die intestate? In this discussion, we will be talking about the legal requirements for making a will and why a so and so last will written by a 12-year-old is not considered valid.
Legal Requirements of Wills
Before any piece of a document containing the words “Last will” can be taken seriously in probate court, it must first pass through these basic requirements given by the Wills Act:
- Made by a 21-year-old– there is an age requirement for Will, so no a Will made by an 18-year-old will not be considered valid unless he or she is in the military service, marines or seaman. The people mentioned above have what is called “Privileged Wills” we’ll tackle more about that later.
- Is of a “Sound Mind” – this means that one, the person making the Will isn’t insane. Two, the testator of the Will is not under the influence of anybody and is not making it against his or her wishes.
- Signed and in writing – a last Will is in written form, as you get to see in most films and it must be signed at the end by the testator. An unsigned Will is not counted and note “at the end” not before or in the middle, but at the end. This is very important because any writing made below a testator’s signature will be considered invalid.
- Have two witnesses – not one, meaning if you sign your Will with only your lawyer present then it WILL NOT be valid. The two witnesses must be present when the testator signs the Will, and they must also sign the Will as witnesses in the presence of the testator.
- Witnesses must NOT be Beneficiaries – any person who becomes a witness to your Will gets nothing! So, in choosing the witnesses, the testator has to make sure that its none of the beneficiaries listed. Making your spouse, your child or your relative as a witness does not make a will invalid, but it prohibits them from getting anything in the Will.
- Must-Have Testatory Capacity – as stated earlier he or she, the testator, must be a sane and mentally capable person. If the testator has for example Alzheimers or he or she has severe abnormalities, then the Will is considered not valid. Will’s made under the influence of another person is also not valid.
- Conforms to the law – a will shall be treated as properly executed if it is administered or executed according to the internal law in force. In can be according to the place of the deceased domicile, according to the place where it is executed, or to the place where the testator habitually resides, or where the testator is a national. Okay, what does this mean? It can be confusing, we know. Let’s simplify it, shall we? A Will is correctly executed if it, (1) goes according to your place of domicile or your permanent residence, (2) goes according to your place of nationality, (3) follows the jurisdiction of the place you habitually visit or spend vacation in, and last (4) if it conforms to the law of the place where it is executed.
People who serve in the military, marine or seafarers need not make a will that conforms to all these legal requirements; this is because nature of their job puts their lives a risk most of the time. A soldier doesn’t have the time to make a formal Will if he or she is deployed in the war zone before the age of 21. So, Will made by these groups of people are considered valid even if it’s just written on a cheap piece of paper or a page of a notebook.
Making a will with the aid of a law firm or a company like Rockwills ensures that you end up leaving behind a valid Will. An invalid Will defeats your very purpose of making one, so in order to prevent problems from popping up after your death because of your Will, then make you that when you’re making a will, it will follow the requirements stated by law. We’ll leave you with the parting thought of “leave a legacy, not a controversy.