States have different rules when it comes to making a valid will. Therefore, you must understand the laws of your home state before creating a will. If the will is not valid, it will fall on the court to decide your property and assets transfer.
It’s also important to note that a will is just a piece of proper estate planning documentation. Having a trust created covers additional details on your wishes upon death, and it is recommended to have both a will and trust in place to ensure that everything is covered and help keep your estate out of probate.
What Makes a Will Legal in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin has somewhat stringent requirements for a will to be valid. In the most basic terms, for a will to be valid in Wisconsin, the will must be written and signed in the presence of two witnesses. Then, at least one of the witnesses will be required to make a sworn statement in court to validate the will upon your death.
If the witnesses were not there when the will was created, they might be there to see you sign it and then sign it themselves. If you have already signed the will, you can state that the signature is yours and then have them sign it.
While the witnesses are the base level of explanation for a legal will in Wisconsin, it goes further than that. There are also standards of expectation that, if not met, could compromise the legality of the will.
Capacity for Will Creation
In order for a valid will to be created, you must have the capacity to understand that you are making a will and understand the terms of it. In addition to understanding that you are creating a will and understanding what property you own that you are placing in the will and to whom, you must also be over 18.
The Will Must Be Written
Oral wills do exist for extreme circumstances in some states. Wisconsin is not one of these states. For a will to be valid in Wisconsin, it must be written and have the aforementioned two witnesses – one of which will need to be available for testimony.
The Witnesses Must Be Present
There are states that allow wills to be written and signed without witnesses present. This would not be a valid will in Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, the will must be written and signed in the presence of two witnesses. The only way around this is if the person creating the will was a resident of a state that didn’t require witnesses at the time of making the will.
The Witnesses Should Not Benefit
It’s a best practice if your witnesses do not benefit from your will and are therefore disinterested parties. If they could benefit, things can get complex, as they may not be able to receive all that you left to them if the amount is more significant than what they would naturally be able to get from you without the statements in the will. In this case, they would be getting less than you intended.
Any Changes Should Adhere to the Law
If you desire to change your will at any time, this can be done. But, it is essential to note that this will need to hit the exact legal requirements as the initial will creation. Another option is to start from scratch and create a new will, which must adhere to all standards.
Help with Creating a Will in Milwaukee and Wisconsin
The best bet for ensuring that your will is created properly is to have an estate planning attorney prepare the documentation. They can also set up any trusts that would be beneficial as part of a full estate plan. Collins Law Firm is a trusted estate planning attorney in Wawautosa that serves Milwaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. Get in touch today for a free consultation.