It is critical to follow Virginia law when you are drafting a will. If you do not strictly follow the legal requirements for doing so, the will may be invalid. Then, your situation would be treated legally as if you died without a will, and you would cede control to the probate court’s powers under Virginia law. You should contact an experienced estate planning attorney for help with your will so your family can have the peace of mind to know that it will be valid and enforceable when they need it.
The Will Must Be in Writing and Have Two Witnesses
Besides the fact that the testator (the person making the will) must be 18 years of age or older, the main legal requirement for a will is that it must be in writing. This makes perfect sense because nobody can ask you about the contents of your will when you are no longer here to talk about it. There is no such thing as an oral will. If your will is not in writing and signed by two witnesses, you do not have a legal will. You do not need to have the will notarized, but it may be helpful when it comes time to authenticate the will in probate court.
You Must Be of Sound Mind
One important legal requirement for creating a will is that the testator needs a sound mind. A will is like any other legal document that requires somebody to have the mental capacity to sign it. Someone in poor health or in a state of cognitive decline may not have the mental capacity to sign a will. The same thing goes for someone who has significant mental health issues. Oftentimes, wills may not be enforced because they are signed too late in a person’s life when their health is significantly declining. This is another reason why you need to act sooner rather than later in creating a will.
Your Will Must Be of Your Own Accord
Your will must also be voluntary. The document must express your wishes as you have chosen. You cannot be unduly influenced by someone else. There are some cases when another person will take advantage of or pressure the individual who is making a will. For example, a child who has access to a parent, or even a caregiver, may try to manipulate the testator to change the will in their favor.
They may try to convince that person to leave them more property and cut others out of the will. Undue influence is another reason why a will can be thrown out in probate. The court would determine that the will is not of your own volition.
Work With an Attorney to Ensure Your Will Is Valid
A family may not find out that a loved one’s will fails to meet legal requirements until it is too late. An interested party may challenge the validity of the will in probate court, leaving the family to fight with each other in front of a judge. Will contests can be prolonged, bitter, and expensive. You should do everything possible to keep this situation from happening. While you may not be able to stop someone who is motivated to challenge the will, you can do everything in your power now to ensure that the will satisfies legal requirements, including working with an experienced estate planning attorney who can draft the document and ensure that you follow the law.
Contact Our Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Today
Our Virginia Beach estate planning lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you draft a will that puts your mind, and your loved ones’ minds, at ease. Hiring an experienced Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer protects your interests and ensures you can care for your family even after you’re gone. To schedule an initial consultation, you can send us a message online or call us today at (757)-LAW-0000. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia.