When a testator, or will creator, chooses to make a will, he or she must generally sign and date a physical copy of the will in the presence of not one but two adult witnesses. However, even if the individuals who serve as witnesses are legally adults, they must meet some other requirements. If the individuals who serve as witnesses to a will fail to meet the requirements to do so, this may call the validity of the will into question and complicate the execution of the will when the time comes.
It is always good to have some form of will over no will at all, but a will that is not properly created may be just about as much trouble to resolve as having no will. At the very least, an improperly created will may leave itself necessarily vulnerable to legal challenges, which may result in a protracted legal battle that only serves to drain the resources of an estate and potentially ruin the interpersonal relationships of the family or community members involved in the conflict.
At many points in your life, you may need to review and amend your will to reflect significant life events, changes in relevant laws or changes in your wishes for your estate. It is usually wise to review your will every three to five years to ensure that your will remains valid and up-to-date, especially considering how often shifting legislation may affect the terms of the document.
As part of creating an effective estate plan and protecting your end-of-life wishes, it is often important to consider appointing someone to carry durable financial power of attorney for you. The person you choose to carry this authority must understand the importance of this position and have the faculties to make sober judgments and dependably represent your interests.
Many people do not realize they may have numerous options when it comes to creating a will, depending on their financial and personal circumstances. One type of will that is commonly overlooked is a joint will, usually created for a married couple. Joint wills are used less frequently now than in previous years, because many of the advantages of a joint will are available elsewhere, often with additional benefits.
Living wills are an important part of many carefully considered estate plans. In broad strokes, a living will establishes the end-of-life wishes of the document's creator in the event that he or she loses the ability to communicate or faces some life-threatening ailment and can no longer make decisions with a clear mind.
The longer you wait to make a will, the more likely you'll never get around to it. If you still have not created a will, you should take some time to consider how a will might benefit you and make a point of creating your will as soon as possible. However, for those who already have a will, it is wise to consider if you need to amend or entirely revoke your will if you experience a number of significant life changes.
Estate planning is, among other things, about creating protections for the ones you love before you need them. This way, when the unexpected happens, you can focus your time and energy on addressing difficult situations with your full attention and not losing valuable time and resources wondering what you will do now that disaster or heartbreak is at the door.
At this point in modern society, it seems obvious that nearly every adult should have some sort of will. Somehow, unfortunately, this is not the case. Even individuals with significant assets or liabilities sometimes die without wills, leaving their families to sort through the pieces — often creating massive conflict among the survivors. One only needs to quickly Google the ongoing drama in the estate of the late artist Prince to get a full picture of just how messy and complicated this scenario can get.
If you are considering your end-of-life wishes as you enter your golden years, or simply because of a life-threatening medical condition, you want to be sure that those you love have very clear directions about how to carry out those wishes.