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What are the requirements for a will in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Estate Planning & Elder Law

Deciding to have a will drafted is a good idea. You have taken a positive step which will ensure your property is distributed to the people you want after you pass away. You will also have peace of mind knowing your family will be taken care of when you are gone.

Drafting a will involves more than writing down your wishes on a piece of paper. Virginia, like all other states, has strict requirements that must be met to make a will legally valid.

Age and capacity

Under Virginia law, you must be 18 years old and mentally competent to create a will. For the purposes of making a will, “mentally competent” generally means that you understand what property you own, your relationship with the people you are giving it to and the overall effect of your will.

A diagnosis of a condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s does not necessarily prevent you from having the capacity to create a will, if you understand what you are doing at the time you draft and execute your will.

Virginia does not yet allow electronic wills, so as of now there must be a physical copy of your will. You must sign this physical copy in front of two competent witnesses. They must also sign the will in your presence.

A handwritten (also known as “holographic”) will wholly in your own handwriting may be valid only if you sign it in the presence of two disinterested witnesses.

Witness requirements

Your witnesses must be competent and neutral, meaning that they will not benefit from the will. Your will does not need to be notarized, although having your witnesses notarize their signatures could help make the probate process faster.

Missing even one of these requirements, no matter how minor it may seem, can invalidate your will. This could lead to fighting and conflict between your loved ones over who receives your property.

This is why it is important to carefully review the requirements and make sure you have properly completed them all before you sign and execute your will.