At some point in all of our lives, we hit a milestone where we realize how important it is to create an estate plan. Whether it is getting married, divorced, or the birth of a child or grandchild, we realize that we want to ensure our belongings and assets are protected and ready for the next generation.

Related article: Top 5 Life Events that Cause People to Create a Will

Elements of a Valid Will

In order to ensure your will is valid, it needs to meet a number of requirements.

Proper Age

First, in order to create a valid will in Arizona, you must be at least 18 years old. Until then, you are a minor and do not have the ability to create an estate plan.

Sound Mind and Testamentary Intent

Second, you must be “of sound mind.” This means that the person signing the will – the testator – must be legally competent. This is known as “testamentary capacity.” This is particularly important if your loved one has been diagnosed with early onset dementia or the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In these cases, it may be too late to create a will.

Third, the testator must mean for the document to serve as his or her last will and testament in order for the document to qualify as your last will. Because of this requirement, language is put in the beginning of a last will saying it is your intent to prepare this last will.

Signatures and Witnesses

Finally, the testator must sign the will, and the signature must have two witnesses and a notary.

If the testator is physically incapable of signing the will, he or she may direct another person to sign it on his or her behalf, but this person cannot then act as a witness to the signature.

In order for witness signatures to be valid, the witnesses must either:

  • Witness the signing of the will personally, or
  • Be told by the testator that the signature belongs to the testator.

Additionally, the witnesses must sign in the presence of both the testator and the other witness.

Witnesses must be competent and are allowed to have an interest in the will, meaning that they are allowed to collect an inheritance from the testator’s estate.

Holographic Wills

A holographic will is written entirely in the testator’s own handwriting and signed by the testator. This type of will does not need to be witnessed and is valid as long as the handwriting matches. Although having a holographic will is better than having no will at all, this document is significantly easier to challenge.

Since holographic wills are easier to challenge, if you have the time and are able, you should go through the proper channels and have your will witnessed and notarized.

This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. In order to schedule an appointment to discuss your last will or other estate planning documents, please contact me today.