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A will is valid only when certain steps are understood, followed

Your mother has just died, and the executor fills you in on the specifics of her will. You're surprised at some of the details you hear. Was this really what she wanted? Is this a valid will?

There are several checkmarks that are required to make a will valid, and a will typically must meet the following requirements.

  1. A person must be 18 or older, legally married or a member of the military to consent to a will.
  2. A person must have what is known as testamentary capacity. That means the person signing the will must understand that they are creating a will, understand what that means, know just what their estate includes and be aware that they are determining the distribution of their assets.
  3. They must understand the intent of the will – that is to distribute their property at the time of their death.
  4. Making the will must be a voluntary action. That means if someone is forced to sign the will or signs it under what is believed to be duress, a court will not consider the will to be valid.
  5. All property and assets to be distributed to family or others must be properly accounted for in the document.
  6. Two disinterested people must witness the signing of the will. Those people cannot benefit from the will in any way, such as gaining money or property when it is distributed.

These are general guidelines that cover New York and other states. Creating your will isn't something you want to leave to chance, however. Your will could be challenged and wind up in litigation if it isn't done properly. An attorney can help you make sure all steps are correctly followed to make a valid will.

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