A valid will is an important part of an overall estate plan but estate planners may wonder how they know if their will is valid. There are specific requirements for a will to be valid in Pennsylvania, and other states as well, which is why it is essential for estate planners to be familiar with those requirements, and how to meet them, when executing a will.
A will is of primary importance when estate planning because it determines how the estate planner's property will be distributed. If a will is not valid, property is distributed according to state laws and may not reflect the estate planner's wishes. In Pennsylvania, the party executing the will must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind which means they must be mentally competent to execute the will.
In addition to the age and competency requirements, the party executing the will must also declare before two witnesses that the document is their will and the two witnesses must also sign the will in the estate planner's presence. It is important to note that in Pennsylvania, wills that are handwritten by the estate planner but not signed by witnesses, referred to as holographic wills, are not valid.
There is lots to be aware of when drafting and executing a will and when developing an effective estate plan. Estate planning tools are available to ensure the wishes of estate planners are honored and carried out which is why it is worth it to be familiar with what estate planning tools are available and how they can help with an effective estate plan that reflects the estate planner's wishes.