Creating a will is a valuable way to protect your legacy and provide guidance for loved ones during the estate administration process. However, if you make a will that is not valid or enforceable and you pass away, it could be like you died without a will at all.
To avoid this situation and the complications of dying intestate, you can review your will and make sure it meets specific criteria.
Elements of a will that make it valid
Whether you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin, your will must comply with specific state laws and requirements. However, in general, a valid will must be:
- In writing
- Signed by you (as long as you are at least 18 years old)
- Signed by two witnesses (who cannot be beneficiaries if you live in Wisconsin)
A valid will also typically includes names of representatives and beneficiaries, an itemized list of assets and directions for distribution.
If your will does not fulfill these requirements, it can be invalid.
What could render a will invalid?
There are several other reasons why parties might contest the will or the courts might set aside the document.
For instance, a will can be unenforceable if you did not sign it voluntarily or if someone coerced you into signing. If you did not have the mental capacity to make a contract at the time, a will can be invalid. Further, legal disputes can arise in situations that involve:
- Having multiple wills
- Lying about or misrepresenting information in the document
- Leaving confusing or illegal directions
- Failing to update it if after relocating to a new state, divorcing or getting married
Under these circumstances, all or parts of a will can be deemed invalid.
Avoiding mistakes with help
It is not illegal to create a will or other estate planning documents on your own. However, parties who do not have a legal or financial background can make avoidable errors and omissions in these documents. And unfortunately, these issues could create costly, contentious conflicts among loved ones and others during an already painful time.
Thus, having professional guidance can help you feel confident that your will accurately reflects your wishes and is legally valid.