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Wills and Legal Formalities

When drafting a will, consult with an attorney to ensure the document's validity.

Key point Wills and other testamentary documents must be drafted and executed in compliance with applicable law to be legally enforceable.

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a church member's will, that left the bulk of her estate to her church, was valid even though the witnesses' names were printed without signatures. An elderly church member ("Cora") executed a will naming her church as her primary beneficiary. According to the terms of the will, the church received Cora's home and several substantial bank accounts. The will was executed in the presence of a notary public who printed the names of three witnesses, without signatures, below Cora's signature. Attached to the will was a "self-proving affidavit," which was signed by a notary public and all three witnesses, and which affirmed that Cora signed the will in the presence of the witnesses as her free and voluntary act.

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  • January 1, 2009