If you ever watched old Western movies back in the day, you may have seen gunslingers who lived life on the razor’s edge. They would draw up last wills on old bar napkins before they headed out at high noon for the shootout. Though this is fiction as we all know, there are those who think that it is easy for anyone to scribble down a last will that would be valid.
In fact, you may want to engage qualified legal counsel before you decide to draw up a last will on your own. It is important to understand the fact that a will is not administered in a vacuum. Under state laws, a will must be admitted to probate, and the probate court is required to supervise the administration of the estate.
Each state has different laws, but there are certain legal requirements that must be met in order for a will to be valid. The person who creates a last will is called the testator in legal parlance. To create a valid last will, the testator must be of completely sound mind. Plus, there can be no coercion, intimidation, or fraud involved in the creation and signing of the will.
Improper execution would be one of the grounds that could be used to invalidate a last will. We practice law in the state of North Dakota. In our state, in order for a will to be valid, the testator must sign the document in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the last will.
The will could be valid even if it is not notarized under North Dakota state laws. However, the probate court would be required to contact the witnesses during the probate process. This can be time-consuming. To avoid this, a self proving affidavit could be obtained. The witnesses and the testator would sign this document in front of a notary.
Beware of DIY Notions
There are websites on the Internet that sell boilerplate last wills. Given the fact that Consumer Reports has advised against DIY estate planning, you may want to take pause before you buy into this so-called “simple solution.”
Another consideration would be the simple fact that a last will is not always the best document to utilize. You should explore all of your options and make fully informed decisions.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Our firm would be glad to help if you would like to construct a last will or any other estate planning document with the assistance of a licensed estate planning attorney. We offer no obligation initial consultations, so you can begin the relationship without taking any significant risks.
To set up an appointment, send us a message through this page: Grand Forks ND Estate Planning Attorneys.