Last week, I discussed why estate planning is important despite our optimistic outlook for the future. The article was prompted by an email I received about a man, “Tom,” who believed he was well until he started coughing up blood. A specialist diagnosed him with Stage 4 cancer, and he died three weeks later.
Tom didn’t have any estate planning documents in place, so he tried to get his affairs in order before he died. He visited a lawyer and had a will drafted. But before he could get it signed, we went into cardiac arrest and died. The email asked whether the Will was valid despite the fact that it was unsigned because it was actually drafted in the presence of witnesses to whom Tom made his wishes known.
The answer is no. The statutes are very specific about what constitutes a valid will. To be valid, an attested will must be in writing, signed by the testator, or another person at his direction and in his presence, and attested in the testator’s presence by at least two credible witnesses over the age of 14. Just having the will drafted is insufficient.