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Trust and Estates Attorneys

Requirements for Signing Wills in Virginia

Yes, every state, including the Commonwealth of Virginia, has a required will execution to enter the validity of a last will and testament. In other words, there are certain standards which must be met in order to sign a will. Given the number of requirements for signing wills in Virginia, all of which an experienced lawyer will be well equipped to explain, it is best to reach out to such an attorney as soon as possible to begin making all the necessary arrangements.

Requisites for Validity

Anyone can voluntarily sign a will if they are over the age of 18 and have the required testamentary capacity. One of the main requirements for signing wills in Virginia is that an individual sign in the presence of two independent witnesses. In addition, the individual must then execute a self-proving affidavit, which is attached to the last will and testament either before both the two witnesses or before the independent witnesses and a notary. This self-proving affidavit attests to the witnesses assigned and testamentary capacity of the testator and is the other of the main requirements for signing wills in Virginia.

Importance of Witnesses

As noted, witnesses are required to be present and actually observe the testator signing the document. This is necessary because they are attesting to the following three crucial elements:

  • They agree to witness the individual sign
  • The individual appeared to be of sound mind and have the required testamentary capacity
  • The signature belongs to the testator

By attesting to these three facts, a witness plays a key role in establishing the validity of a last will and testament.

Witness Eligibility

When it comes to selecting individuals who are eligible to witness the signing of a last will and testament, there are two considerations in particular that come into play. First, they are generally not related or named in the document in question. In other words, they are therefore more likely to be objective, third-party observers. Second, they are also generally over the age of 18, the legal age of consent.

What Might Prevent Eligibility 

Most often individuals that do not have the required capacity would not be able to sign a will. Capacity can refer either to the age requirement–a person needs to be 18 to sign a last will and testament– or to the mental capacity of the individual in question. Generally, capacity is one of the more common reasons that an individual might be prevented from signing a last will and testament.  

Storage Options

The original last will and testament can be stored in a number of locations. Unlike other local jurisdictions, Virginia does not accept wills for safekeeping. Because of this, they are often found among the papers of the deceased. Some law offices offer a free service to allow it to be stored in the safety deposit box of the firm. 

When Is the Best Time to Work with an Attorney

There usually is never a bad time to begin creating an estate plan, and an attorney will be extremely helpful when it comes to knowing and fulfilling the requirements for signing wills in Virginia. An estate plan is a plan not just for death. There are also plans for incapacity. Therefore, while an individual may think of themselves as too young, as not having enough assets, or as not needing to write a will due to having no children to leave their assets to, it would be prudent to go to a trust and estates attorney.

Such an attorney will be well equipped to advise individuals on how to plan for personal incapacity. For instance, they can help a person determine who could step in and help make medical decisions, if necessary, or assist with financial or legal matters.