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Ways to tell if a will is indeed valid

While each state has their own respective requirements for how wills must be written in order to be deemed enforceable, there are many commonalities that are nonnegotiable must haves.

First, the individual drafting the will must be over 18 years of age. The only cases in which someone younger than that can draft a will is if they have been granted emancipation from their parents, joined the military or gotten married.

Second, an individual who drafts a will must be determined to be of sound mind, or having testamentary capacity. It's important that it can be proven that you clearly understand the extent of the property you own and the dynamics of the relationship between you and your beneficiaries. It also needs to be verified that you understand that the possessions that you own are being left behind for certain individuals once you pass on.

Third, in every jurisdiction, a will is only valid once the testator, or individual making it, signs it. If you don't sign it or it's found that the signature contained on it is not the testator's own, then it may be invalidated by a judge.

In cases in which the testator is unable to physically sign the document, another person can sign that individual's name on his or her behalf, provided that additional criteria are met. In any case, the signature can generally be found at the conclusion of the will on its final page.

Last, in most jurisdictions, it's required that at least two other disinterested individuals both personally witness, then place their signature, on the final page of the will themselves. In most states, "disinterested" is used to describe a person that is not listed as one of the testator's beneficiaries. However, in some states, an heir may be allowed to sign the will as a witness, provided that at least one disinterested individuals also does.

In some cases, it's not possible for the testator to execute his or her will via this more standard route. This can often lead to instances in which a will is not executed in alignment with the formalities established by the state.

Whether you're wishing to draft your own will or contest a pre-existing one, a Maricopa, Arizona, wills and trusts attorney can provide guidance in either case.

Source: The balance, "Is your will and testament valid?," Julie Garber, accessed Sep. 15, 2017

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