What are the requirements in Arkansas for your last will and testament? Fair question. If the requirements are not all met, your Will won’t be valid and your wishes will not be fulfilled. Today, let’s look at what makes a Will valid in the State of Arkansas.
Four Basic Requirements for a Valid Will
In order for a Will to be valid in Arkansas, there are five basic requirements. First, the creator of the Will (known as the Testator) must be at least eighteen years old. Second, the creator must be of sound mind. Third, the Will must show the creator’s testamentary intent. Fourth, the creator must sign the Will. Finally, unless it is a Holographic Will, the creator’s signature on the Will must be properly witnessed. Below I discuss each of these requirements in detail.
Age and Sound Mind Requirements
The age requirement is pretty self-explanatory. You have to be at least eighteen in Arkansas to make a Will. Otherwise, the Will is not valid. The sound mind requirement for a valid Will is a little more complex. To be of “sound mind” the creator of the Will must: 1) be able to understand the extent and condition of the creator’s property; and 2) know how the creator wants to dispose of the property (i.e. who the property is to be given to). Also, the creator cannot be under undue influence of another at the time the Will was created. Finally, the Will will not be valid if created due to fraud or duress.
Testamentary Intent Requirement
A Will is a document that gives someone’s property to someone else (or some entity, such as a charity) after the creator dies. A document that simply lists the creator’s property, without stating what person(s) or class of persons (or entities) receive it is not a valid Will. Also, a document that gives property away in the present is not a valid Will. For example, a document that states, “John Smith gets my TV” would not be valid because it doesn’t make clear that John gets the TV only after the creator has died.
Signature and Witness Requirements
To be valid, a Will must be signed by the creator. If the creator is too weak to sign, the Will can be signed by someone else in the creator’s presence, with the creator’s permission. Unless the Will is Holographic (See my article on Holographic Will requirements in Arkansas), the signature of the creator must be witnessed by two disinterested persons. The witnesses must be at least eighteen years old and of sound mind. They must be disinterested, meaning that they do not benefit from the Will. Finally, the creator must state in the presence of the witnesses that this is his or her Will.
The Will does not have to be notarized. However, the Will can have something known as a Proof of Will attached to it. A Proof of Will is a notarized statement by the witnesses to Will that they witnessed the creator sign the Will and that the creator appeared of sound mind and legal age at the time of signing.
Contact the Law Offices of Dustin A. Duke, PLLC
Contact the Law Offices of Dustin A. Duke, PLLC if you need help drafting a Will or with other estate planning needs. Call (501) 960-6060 to reach us by phone or click here.