Hi. I’m Gary, the owner of DeWitt Law. We write Wills and we write Wills right. Get started at DeWitt.law.
At least once a month, I have to break the bad news to somebody that their parent’s Will is invalid for a variety of reasons. Usually it is because it was typed, not signed, and not witnessed as required by law. When this happens, it’s not a Will, but a wish list.
A Will must meet the minimum requirements set by law.
I want to go over what makes a Will valid and some things to avoid.
First, you must be over 18 years old.
Second, you must have the mental capacity to write a Will. In Arkansas, all you need to know is what you have and who you want to give it to.
Third are all the picky legal requirements that must be met.
A Will should declare it is your Will. It should also state that all previous Wills are void and invalid.
If your Will is typed, it must be witnessed by two disinterested people. Disinterested means you can’t leave them anything in your Will. If they are left something in the Will, by law, they can’t have it. This is one of the big ones that kills Wills. People will type everything out, then just have it Notarized. That is just one witness. You MUST have two witnesses.
The Judge can require that the witnesses show up in court to validate their signatures. This is another mistake people make. You can’t assume that your witnesses will be around when your Will is Probated. The way around this is with a “self proving affidavit.” This is a sworn and notarized statement by the witnesses that they signed in front of the person signing the Will and each other.
A Will can be handwritten in Arkansas. The body of the Will must be all in the person’s handwriting, no typing allowed. It must be signed by the person writing the Will. The Judge can require 3 witnesses to testify as to the validity and accuracy of the handwriting. I have had more luck in getting hand written Wills admitted by the Judge than getting improper typed Wills admitted.
A Will must show “testamentary intent.” Testamentary intent means that the Will must make it very clear that it is leaving or making gifts to people.
These are just the minimum items that make a Will valid. There is much more to writing a Will.
We write Wills and we write Wills right. Get started at dewitt.law.