A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his or her estate and provides for the distribution for his property at death. A will may also create a testamentary trust that is effective only after the death of the testator.
- The testator must clearly identify himself as the maker of the will, and that a will is being made; this is commonly called “publication” of the will, and is typically satisfied by the words “last will and testament” of the face of the document.
- The testator should declare that he revokes all previous wills and codicils.
- The testator may demonstrate that he has the capacity to dispose of his property (“sound mind”), and does so freely and willingly.
- The testator must sign and date the will, usually in the presence of at least two disinterested witnesses (persons who are not beneficiaries).
- The testator’s signature must be placed at the end of the will.
- One or more beneficiaries (divisees, legatees) must generally be clearly stated in the text.