Do you have to make a Will through a lawyer for it to be considered a legal Will?

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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Do you have to make a Will through a lawyer for it to be considered a legal Will?

Or can u simply write down your wishes on a piece of paper and have it witnessed and notarized?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas


Michael Gainer / Michael J. Gainer, Attorney At Law

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, you don't necessarily need a lawyer, but it is wise to use one.  Many states have strict requirements for a Will to be valid.  In addition, you want to make sure it includes all of the necessary provisions and does what you want it to do.  Many states have attorneys or web sites that provide basic information on the requirements for a particular state. 

One big issue that arises is making sure the will is signed by the person making it in front of 2 uninterested witneses and the witnesses sign that they saw person do it and their signatures are notarized at the time of signing.  This "self proves" a will.  Different states have different rules, but this is typical. 

I have had situations where the Will did not actually specify who would inherit and have also seen cases where the witnesses were not available at the time of probate and their signatures were not notarized.  Best to do it right and have an attorney assist you rather than have your heirs have to struggle with a bad will and not having your wishes carried out. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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