What are the Four conditions to make a will valid?
What Makes a Will Valid?
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Basic Requirements to make a Will Valid in California.
Wills can be powerful estate planning tools to detail how an estate should be handled after a loved one passes away. Although a loved one may have trouble creating a will, this does not necessarily mean that the Will, will hold up later. Nonetheless, it is the executor’s job when executing the Will to ensure that it is legal and valid in the state. During probate, the presiding judge determines the final word of the Will’s validity.
However, those creating an estate plan should be aware of what constitutes a legal and valid will to ensure there are no hinges in the program for family members later.
Here’s When California Wills Can Be Invalid
When the testator has not signed the Will
The testator, or the will-maker, must sign the finished Will. If the will-maker never ends up signing the Will, it will not constitute a legally binding document.
Here, it’s important to point out that many courts have a liberal view of what qualifies as a “signature,” as even markings like an “x” can be deemed to be a signature if it was intended to serve as such (for those, for example, who may have medical conditions that prevent them from being able to hold or maneuver pens).
Items That Affect a Will’s Status
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There are life circumstances that can influence a legal will in California.
These conditions include:
Significant family changes, such as a divorce or new marriage.
Property held in joint tenancy cannot be disposed of through a will, regardless if it is valid.
Even a will with a signature and witness could be challenged, especially if the maker of the Will did not have the mental capacity to create the Will (such as being diagnosed with dementia).
The Basic Requirements of a Legal Will in California
For a will to be legal, there are four basic requirements:
• The Will must be in writing.
• The testator must sign the Will.
• At least two witnesses must sign the Will.
• Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries.
If the Will is signed and witnessed correctly, the courts will likely consider it valid. An executor is not legally required to investigate a will if it is signed and witnessed correctly, and the only time the probate court officials question that Will is if someone contests it.
The Handwritten Will: Can it Be a Legal Will in California?
Most estate planning services now use the computer to draft and complete a will. Wills before that were often typed. However, that does not mean a handwritten will is invalid. If the testator and witnesses have a signature, the handwritten Will might be valid.
A valid will must have witnesses, but the requirements for witnesses are somewhat fuzzy between counties. The witness requirement is there to protect against fraud and undue influence. When observing conditions are not met, the Will may be deemed invalid, and the estate will follow the statute for distribution.
Two competent witnesses must be present to sign the Will when it is complete. These witnesses must be present when the testator signs the Will – verifying that the testator signed it.
There are other requirements as well, including:
The witnesses must be considered legal adults; therefore, they must be over 18.
A witness that stands to inherit from that estate plan cannot witness the estate plan’s creation. Doing so creates a conflict of interest and gives other family members grounds to challenge the Will’s validity.
A will does not need to be notarized, but a notary can help avoid disputes over witnesses. The notary counts as a witness too.