You have to be careful when you are planning your will to ensure that it is a valid legal document. Indeed, if your will is not valid, it could be challenged during probate proceedings, and ultimately nullified. If your will is nullified, then a previous will may become the prevailing will that governs the distribution of your estate; or, if no other will exists, your estate may be distributed in probate court in accordance with intestate succession laws.
In order for a will to be valid, the will creator (or testator) has to be 18 years of age or older and of sound mental cognizance. Furthermore, a statement saying that the document should serve as the testator’s will is also necessary. Usually, it is preferable to type up your will, but you can also create a handwritten one.
The will needs to have a minimum of one provision to dispose of property; or, it needs to appoint the guardian of a child. It also needs to appoint an executor. It needs to have a named testator (the will creator), and two witnesses to the will’s signature by the testator. When the will is signed, it has to be signed by the testator and witnesses in ink. The witnesses have to be 18 years of age or older and they cannot be the beneficiaries of the will.
Although it is not required to notarize your last will and testament, you may want to do so because it could serve to simplify probate proceedings for your heirs. Following these guidelines when drafting a will on your own will certainly increase the likelihood of your will surviving a challenge in probate court; however, it is always advisable to consult with a professional in order to appropriately draft your will.
Source: Findlaw, “Making a will FAQs,” accessed May. 29, 2015