for the creation of a will:
person over the age of majority (an adult) can draft
their own will without the aid of an attorney. Additional
requirements may vary, depending on the jurisdiction,
but every will must contain the following:
The testator must clearly identify himself or herself
as the maker of the will, and that a will is being
made; this is commonly called "publication"
of the will, and is typically satisfied by the words
"last will and testament" on the face
of the document.
The testator must declare that he or she revokes
all previously-made wills and codicils. Otherwise,
a subsequently-made will revokes earlier wills and
codicils only to the extent that they are inconsistent.
However, if a subsequent will is completely inconsistent
with an earlier one, that earlier will be considered
completely revoked by implication.
The testator must demonstrate that he or she has
the capacity to dispose of his or her property,
and does so freely and willingly.
The testator must sign and date the will, usually
in the presence of at least two disinterested witnesses
(persons who are not beneficiaries). In some jurisdictions,
for example, Kentucky Revised Statutes § 394.210(2)
(2006). the spouse of a beneficiary is also considered
an interested witness. In the USA, Pennsylvania
is the only state which does not require the signing
of the will to be witnessed.
The testator's signature must be placed at the end
of the will. If this is not observed, any text following
the signature will be ignored, or the entire will
may be invalidated if what comes after the signature
is so material that ignoring it would defeat the
the testator has died, a probate proceeding may
be initiated in court to determine the validity
of the will or wills that the testator may have
created, i.e., which will satisfied the legal requirements,
and to appoint an executor. If the will is ruled
invalid in probate, then inheritance will occur
under the laws of intestacy as if a will were never
is no legal requirement that a will be drawn up
by a lawyer, although there are pitfalls into which
home-made wills can fall. The person who makes a
will is not available to explain him or herself,
or to correct any technical deficiency or error
in expression, when it comes into effect on that
person's death, and so there is little room for
mistake. A common error (for example) in the execution
of home-made wills in England is to use a beneficiary
(typically a spouse or other close family members)
as a witness -- although this has the effect in
law of disinheriting the witness regardless of the
provisions of the will.
states recognize a holographic will, made out entirely
in the testator's own hand. A minority of states
even recognize the validity of nuncupative wills,
which are expressed orally. In England, the formalities
of wills are relaxed for soldiers who express their
wishes on active service.
will may not include a requirement that an heir
commit an illegal, immoral, or other act against
public policy as a condition of receipt. In community
property jurisdictions, a will cannot be used to
disinherit a surviving spouse, who is entitled to
at least a portion of the testator's estate. In
England, a will may disinherit a spouse, but close
relations excluded from a will (including but not
limited to spouses) may apply to the court for provision
to be made for them at the court's discretion.
is a good idea that the testator give his executor
the power to pay debts, taxes, and administration
expenses (probate, etc.). Warren Burger's will did
not contain this, which wound up costing his estate
thousands. This is not a consideration in English
law, which provides that all such expenses will
fall on the estate in any case.
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web site is designed to give you general information.
The information on this web site is in no way intended
to be legal advice. Legal advice can only be obtained
by a licensed attorney who has the appropriate legal
skills and knowledge related to your specific circumstances