For many people, deciding what will happen to their property and belongings once they die is a very sensitive subject. This is understandable, as it can be uncomfortable to contemplate one’s own mortality. However, writing a will and taking other precautions is a necessary part of preparing for death. It can discourage litigation over a person’s property or even make that litigation unnecessary. Because this topic is so complex and there are many options available for disposing of one’s property, an estate planning lawyer can be very helpful in assisting a person of any age decide how their property should be divided. An estate planning lawyer can help with many things, including but not limited to writing a will divorce lawyer.
A will is a document where the writer, or testator, declares a person to manage his estate once he passes away and decides how his property will be divided upon his death. There are many requirements for writing a will and making sure that it is valid. Only valid wills have legal effect, and thus failing to observe a necessary formality or meet a requirement will result in the will having no effect and the property being distributed according to the rules of distribution for those who have died without writing a will. This can often have totally different results than what the testator intended.
For all testators in all states, they must have the proper mental capacity to write a will. This involves being of the age of majority and having the requisite mental capacity to understand the consequences of writing a will. Although there will be plenty of evidence available regarding a testator’s age, evidence of mental capacity is often more difficult to prove. Consulting with an estate planning lawyer and discussing the writing of the will and the disposition of one’s property can provide important evidence about the testator’s mental state and whether or not he understood the actions he or she was taking.
Other requirements vary by jurisdiction, and an estate planning lawyer can help explain which requirements a testator must meet to write a valid will in the state where they reside. Some of the more common requirements are a declaration that the document is the last will and testament of the testator, declaring that the testament revokes all previous wills, and how clearly the property and the beneficiaries must be identified.
Additionally, there are certain form requirements that must be followed if the will is to have legal effect, such where the testator must sign and date the will. In addition to the form requirements, each jurisdiction has its own rules about who can and cannot be a witness to a will. This may include age requirements, mental capacity requirements, and rules about whether or not property can be left to a person who witnessed the will. There are also rules about where the witnesses must sign the will and whether or not they must sign it in the presence of the testator or may do so at a later date.