Settling your loved one’s estate can be extremely difficult, from emotional strains to administrative ones. The last thing you want is a fight over their assets, but you also want to make sure it’s really their wishes that you’re carrying out.

Over one-third of people personally experienced, or know someone who experienced a family quarrel stemming from an inadequate estate plan. These disagreements can often arise because of how vital the process of carrying out the will is, and the difficulty of not having your loved one around anymore to offer clarification. A will does lay out their last wishes, but there are guidelines for what makes a will a legal document.

Battle of wills

A will can fall short of validation if it can’t meet a few basic standards:

  • Signed: Once they have laid down all of the details, the first step toward making it legal is for the testator to put pen to paper. They can do this directly, or they may appoint a proxy to perform the action in their name.
  • Witnessed: The process to wrap it all up is having at least two individuals sign that they oversaw the previous step. They either had to witness the deceased sign the will themselves or receive acknowledgment from the testator.
  • Limited: The author of the document must also be the driving force behind the will and any changes made. They must have been of sound mind, free from outside influence and under no challenges.

Making sure you carry out their final wishes can be a long and difficult task, compounded by suspicions of an inaccurate will. Know what counts as a legally binding document, and you may have your answer as to whether or not you’re doing right by them.