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Why the execution of a simple will might be 'simpler' than you think

From the mistaken belief that estate planning is reserved for the very wealthy to general unease over the prospect of addressing the topic of death, there are multiple reasons why people choose to forgo the advantages of creating a comprehensive estate plan or even executing a simple will.

Indeed, when it comes to this latter legal instrument, many people consciously avoid it over concerns that it involves an extremely complex process necessitating the investment of considerable time, money and energy.

While it's true that executing a simple will with the assistance of an attorney will require some investment of time and money, the process itself isn't entirely arcane.

By way of example, consider that state law only requires the following elements to be present when executing a simple will:

  • The person creating the will (i.e., the testator) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
  • The will must be in writing.
  • The will must be signed by the testator and, if they are unable to do so, signed in their name by another person who is in their conscious presence and acting at their direction.
  • The will must be signed by two people, both of whom either witnessed the testator sign or witnessed the testator's acknowledgment of the signature made on their behalf.  

As far as these two witnesses are concerned, they can be virtually anyone considered competent to function in this capacity. Furthermore, the will won't be invalidated if one of the witnesses has an interest in it so long as one of the two conditions are met:

  • There are at least two other witnesses who have no interest in the will; or
  • The interested witness can establish that there was no fraud or undue influence on their part.

Here's hoping this information eased some of the anxiety people might feel about taking this incredibly beneficial step. If you would like to learn more about simple wills or more complex estate planning instruments, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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