Thomas F. Miles, Attorney and Counselor at Law
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The importance of a will as part of an estate plan

A will is an important center piece of any effective estate plan. Wills account for the property and assets of the estate planner and how the estate planner wants property and assets distributed. There are certain elements for a will to be valid so to achieve the wishes of the estate planner, it is helpful to be familiar with those rules and ensure that the will is properly executed.

There are several requirements for a will to be valid. The party executing the will must be of legal age which is generally considered 18 years of age but certain other circumstances may qualify as well. In addition, the estate planner must have testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity requires that the party executing the will knows they are making a will and understands its effect; understands the nature and extent of their estate; and understands that they are disposing of property or assets.

In addition, for the will to be valid, the estate planner must have the intent to make a will and the will must be made voluntarily. For the will be to considered voluntary, there cannot be any coercion or duress associated with the execution of the will. The will must also properly dispose of all of the estate planner's property. Typically, the will must also be signed and dated by two disinterested witnesses but exact requirements can vary by state somewhat so it is important to understand the rules for executing a valid will in the estate planner's state.

Determining how property will be divided, and ensuring that a properly executed will contains those provisions, can provide peace of mind for the estate planner and family members. Because wills can be complex, and should also be updated, it can be helpful to have trained guidance when considering a will and overall estate plan.

Source: Estate.findlaw.com, "What is a valid will?" Accessed March 31, 2017

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