How to Validate a Will After the Owner of an Estate Passes Away

A last will document for signature

• A will is a legal document outlining how an estate should be distributed after the owner’s death and must include two valid signatures. 

• It is important to understand state laws regarding wills, such as additional paperwork and debts that must be settled for asset distribution. 

• An executor must verify that all beneficiaries are named correctly and that their contact information is up-to-date. 

• Seeking advice from professionals such as probate lawyers, estate lawyers, and tax accountants can help validate a will. 

The death of a loved one can be a difficult and trying time. Aside from dealing with grief, many legal matters must be handled. One such matter is validating the will of the deceased. Here are ways to ensure that a will is valid after the owner of an estate passes away.

What is a Will

A will is a legal document that outlines how an estate—the total assets owned by someone at the time of their death—will be distributed after they die. It also names an executor responsible for ensuring that all applicable taxes are paid and that all debts are settled before any assets are distributed. The will should have the following details:

  • The deceased’s name and address.
  • The names of their beneficiaries, i.e., who will inherit the estate after they pass away.

Here are the other details that should be included in a will:

Check for a Valid Signature

One of the first steps in validating a will is to check that the deceased person has signed it. A will must have two witnesses present when it’s signed to be legally valid. Those two witnesses must also sign the document. If any of these signatures are missing or invalid, then the will cannot be enforced, and the estate must instead use state laws regarding intestate succession—that is, when someone dies without leaving behind a legally valid will—to determine how assets be should be distributed.

Instructions on How to Divide the Assets

This is especially important if there are multiple beneficiaries listed in the will. All instructions must be clear and unambiguous, as any vagueness can lead to disagreements between heirs or outright disputes that could end up in court. Ensure everyone mentioned in the will is properly identified and all assets are listed.

A man skin hands with a lawyer

Understand State Laws Regarding Wills

Understanding state laws about wills is important, as they vary from state to state. Here are some of the requirements that a state may have regarding wills:

Additional Paperwork

Additional paperwork, such as death certificates, probate forms, and other documents, may be required. This is due to state laws and can include notices, liens, or any documents relating to the deceased’s estate. Check with your state’s probate court to see what documentation is needed.

Ensure All Debts Are Paid

The executor must ensure that the deceased’s debts are paid off before any assets can be distributed. This includes any taxes that may be due. This is why it’s important to thoroughly understand the deceased’s finances before distributing any assets from the estate.

Verify Beneficiaries

This is an important step in the process of validating a will. The executor must verify that all beneficiaries are named correctly and that their contact information is up-to-date. This ensures that any assets left to them can be distributed appropriately.

Seek Legal Advice

If you have any questions or doubts about whether or not a will is legally binding, then it’s best to contact a professional for help and advice on how best to validate it. Here are the professionals that can help you depending on your concerns and issues:

Probate Lawyer

If any disputes arise while validating a will, it’s best to seek the help of a probate lawyer. An experienced probate lawyer can provide legal advice on how best to proceed and represent your interests in court if necessary. Additionally, they can also assist in filing the proper paperwork and dealing with any complications that may arise, including but not limited to familial disputes.

Estate Lawyer

An estate lawyer can provide legal advice on how to handle the estate of a deceased person. They can advise on matters such as who should be named as executor, what taxes must be paid, and any other issues that may arise. Additionally, they can help you file paperwork, deal with creditors, and ensure all assets are distributed appropriately.

A lawyer talking to a client in the office

Tax Accountant

A tax accountant can help file the necessary forms and taxes related to the estate of a deceased person. They can also provide advice on how best to maximize any deductions that may be available, as well as filing returns for any income earned by the deceased during their lifetime.

Validating a will is an important step in settling a deceased’s estate. Ensuring all legal requirements are met and disputes handled properly is essential. By seeking help from the right professionals, you can ensure that the will is validated correctly and that all assets are distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.

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