March 2, 2017 A will is a legally binding statement directing who will receive your property at your death. If you do not have a will, the state will determine how your property is distributed. Wills are complicated but essential. It is important to leave your assets in capable hands. By creating a valid will you can also specify exactly how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. A valid will allows you to state to whom your assets will go, who will receive custody of your children, who will manage your estate, etc. Renton Estate Planning While everyone should draw up and maintain a valid will as early as possible, some restrictions apply. In Washington, estate planning laws state that making a valid will requires the following: The testator must be at least 18 years of age. The will must be in writing. The will must be properly signed by or for the testator. The testator must sign with intent to make a will. The will must be properly signed and attested by two or more competent witnesses. The testator must sign the will in the presence of the witnesses or acknowledge it before them as his act and deed. The testator, at the time of signing, must have the requisite mental capacity. The execution must be free from fraud, duress, improper influence or other improper conduct. Every will should be drawn by a lawyer. You and your lawyer can take simple steps to assure a will is valid and not denied by probate. First, prepare your first will at a fairly early age. Second, be sure to monitor and update the will whenever a substantial change occurs. Examples of substantial changes include: change in fortunes, relationships, death, births, etc. Third, be sure to retain the originals of earlier wills with the current will. Following these procedures will limit will contests that could divert from the testator’s wishes. After the will has been drawn up and signed, your lawyer will keep a copy on file to ensure heirs to your estate don’t have the sole copy. Appoint an executor The next important step in drawing up your will is appointing an executor. An executor is a person appointed by an individual to administer his or her estate after death. The executor is responsible for overseeing the estate and protecting the assets within the estate. An executor must: Be age 18 or older. Be a resident of the United States. Have the requisite mental capacity to execute a will. Let Us Help You Craft a Will Making a valid will is a vitally important act. Making an invalid will or not making a will at all may result in adverse consequences. Reach out to an experienced Renton estate planning attorney at the office of Dan Kellogg to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes, the requirements of the state of Washington, and aided by every tax exemption available to you. Call (425) 227-8700 or contact us online today.