When you use a will as your asset transfer device, you name an executor or personal representative to handle the business of the estate after your passing. The executor cannot look at the instructions, follow them, and act independently. The will must be admitted to probate before the executor can distribute assets.
During probate, the court determines the validity of the will. We practice law in the state of Indiana. For a will to be valid in our state, the testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses, and the witnesses must also sign the document. The will can be valid even if it is not notarized.
In most states, there is a proving of the will during probate. The court is required to contact the witnesses who signed the document so that they can attest to the fact that they did in fact sign the will under legally acceptable circumstances.
Time can be saved in these states if a self-proving affidavit is included with the will. A notary would validate the self-proving affidavit, and the court wouldn’t have to try to find the witnesses to obtain affirmation.
Here in Indiana, as long as the basic rules are followed with regard to the signing and witnessing of the will, it is looked upon as a self-proving will, even if there is no self-proving affidavit attached.
Beware of DIY Wills
While we are on the subject of the legal requirements that make a will valid, we should touch upon the topic of do-it-yourself last wills that you can download on the Internet. A few years ago Consumer Reports advised against DIY wills after hearing feedback from three prominent legal professors.
In addition to the fact that DIY last wills can yield unintended consequences, a last will is not always the best choice. In many cases, a revocable living trust would be a better option.
If you would like to learn about the dangers of do-it-yourself estate planning, we have a resource that you can access through this website. Our firm has prepared an in-depth report on the subject, and you can get your copy free of charge.
To obtain access to your copy of the special report, visit this page and follow the simple instructions: DIY Estate Planning Report.
Free Seminars Coming up in May
We have a number of seminars coming up during the month of May. These seminars are going to focus on the value of revocable living trusts. They are free to attend, but we do ask that you register in advance, because space is limited, and the seminars fill up quickly.
To see a list of dates, visit our Seminar Schedule Page.
Schedule a Consultation
A last will can be a suitable choice for some people, but living trusts are also popular among people who are not necessarily wealthy. If you would like to discuss your options with a licensed professional, send us a message through our contact page to request a free consultation: Indianapolis IN Estate Planning Attorneys.