Creating a Valid Will
Many people think a will is just a will. You write down how you want your possessions and money to be passed on after you go and it should all be taken care of. However, a will is more complicated under the law. Certain elements have to be in place in order for it to be valid and enforceable by the court. If your will is not valid, your estate will be distributed according to Oklahoma law instead.
Making a Will
In general, a will is valid if it is:
- Handwritten or typed;
- By someone over the age of 18;
- Who is of sound mind; and
- Signed by the person making the will, known as the testator; and
- Signed by two witnesses present at the execution of the will.
Sound mind merely means the testator has not be deemed legally incompetent.
Signed by the testator usually means a signature by their own hand, but if the testator is physically unable to sign the document, they can direct another person to do so for them. This other person cannot be one of the witnesses. The testator’s signature should be made in the presence of the two required witnesses or the testator can acknowledge to the witnesses that they signed the document.
The testator must make it clear at the time of the execution that they intend for this document to be their will.
The two witnesses should sign at the end of the document in each other’s and the testator’s presence. It is not required, but it is best if the witnesses are disinterested parties, which means they do not receive anything from the will.
Many husbands and wives choose to have one will for both of them. This is perfectly legal, but the will can be revoked by either party. It should also be noted that once one spouse passes away, the other can write a new will that disposes of that individual’s estate differently upon their death than the previous document.
A holographic will is entirely handwritten by the testator, clearly intended to be a will, and is dated and signed by the testator. It does not require other witnesses or formalities.
It can often be difficult to prove a holographic will is real and was written by the deceased.
The attorneys at Brown & Gould, PLLC have years of experience helping individuals create their wills. For more information on planning for that time of life, call 405-235-4500 to make an appointment.