What are the Requirements for Drafting a Will and Trust?

A will is a legal instrument that makes a disposition of property (distribution to specific people and entities). The individual creating the will is called a “testator.” The executor (a person appointed by the testator in the will) oversees the disposition.

A trust is created by an owner of property. In a trust, a trustee holds legal title to the property. This person is under a legal obligation to manage, invest, and safeguard the trust assets. Assets are distributed to designated individuals, called beneficiaries.

What is Required for a Valid Will?

The most common type of will is called a self-proving will. A self-proving will is one that has been witnessed and signed in accordance with state law formalities. These formalities differ by state.

Another type of will is called a holographic will. A holographic will is written by the testator, but without the presence of any witnesses. Some states recognize a holographic will, signed and dated by the testator, as valid.

However, not every state does so it's important to verify with your local laws before you rely on a holographic will. Most states recognizing such wills require that two or more people verify (testify in court) that the will is in the handwriting of the testator.

In an oral will, the testator orally communicates the terms of a will to someone. Most states do not recognize these wills as valid. Some exceptions apply. Some state courts will deem as valid, a will made by a member of the military while deployed.

What Must Be Included in a Will?

In order for a will to be properly executed, a will should have at least one provision directing:

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