What constitutes a valid will?

Throughout their lives, many Americans may acquire assets and wealth such as a house, recreational toys, and investments. Unfortunately, no one can live forever, and tomorrows are never guaranteed. With that in mind, it is important to draft a will to insure that all assets acquired get passed along to the right people.

In order to create a legally binding valid will, there are a few requirements that must be fulfilled. A person must create the will while of sound mind, meaning that they understand the will and how the estate will be split and divided. At the time the will is signed, it must be the intent of the signer that all property within the will is properly disposed among family, friends and/or charities.

The actual formulation of the will does not have any formal guidelines. It can be handwritten in a notepad or typed up as a formal document. The will must be witnessed, signed and dated by two "disinterested witnesses", or people who will are not beneficiaries and will not receive any benefits from the contents of the will.

It is also important to select a trusted executor -- that is, a person who will make certain that the will is properly divided and that all intended beneficiaries receive what is intended for them to receive. Lastly, it is important to note that Estate Planning Laws vary by state, and it may be wise to seek the advice of an attorney with estate planning to insure that the will is legally valid.

Source: findlaw.com, "What Is a 'Valid Will'?", Accessed July 13, 2015.

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