A will is an important estate planning document that provides instructions on how to distribute your assets after death. While writing and compiling this document helps outline your estate plans, it will not be legally binding unless it is signed– and signed correctly.
Below are three simple steps to keep in mind during the final signing of your will and where to find an attorney when you need help.
1. The Will Must Be in Writing
The individual writing the will, known as the testator, can only create a valid will if they are over the age of 18 and determined as having a “sound mind.”
The will must then be recorded in writing– either typed or entirely handwritten.
Handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills, are not recommended however. This is largely because holographic wills are difficult to amend and can pose many problems when reaching probate court. Oftentimes these issues regard the authenticity of the will– an accusation that can spark a lengthy probate process.
2. The Testator Must Sign
Next, in the presence of two witnesses, the testator must initial each page of the will then give a final signature on the last page. The testator must also note the date of these signings and include it with their final signature.
No text should follow this except the two additional signatures of the chosen witnesses.
3. The Signatures of Two Witnesses
Because a will is a legal document, it must go through a validation process. At the very least this process involves two witnesses, but it can also include notarization from a notary public.
In the case of witness signing, the state of Arizona has three requirements: these witnesses must be at least 18 years of age, of sound mind, and must affirmatively witness the signing of the will.
These witness signatures validate the will– proving the document was indeed signed by the testator. Therefore, the witness signatures appear as the final signatures on the document. Like the testator, witnesses must also include their date of signing on the document to preserve the information for posterity.
When making a will, especially early in life, it is a good idea to keep the document up-to-date. It is highly recommended that you use the services of an estate planning attorney to help with this process. By working with an attorney, you reduce the likelihood of any improper organization, missing assets, or missed steps, in your will.
Having your estate documents compiled correctly will then reduce the likelihood for a messy probate process at a later point in time.
Find an Estate Planning Attorney
Having an experienced estate planning attorney to help draft your will saves time and effort for you and your loved ones. With decades of experience, the Law Offices of Paula Hannah, PLC can organize your assets to ensure your affairs are in order, giving you peace of mind.
Schedule an appointment and get the estate planning help that is right for you.