last will on parchmentThis is the third post in a series of articles which will discuss the importance of estate planning for Las Vegas residents. My previous post addressed why one needs an estate plan. In this article, I will be discussing the legal requirements of a valid and binding Last Will and Testament. Creating a valid will involves ensuring your wishes are provided for in the document and that it is executed with the necessary formalities. Your will includes a variety of information such as how you wish your assets to be distributed to loved ones, who would have guardianship over any minor children, and who is appointed to administer your estate. If one fails to follow Nevada law for establishing a valid will, it is possible the will may not be enforceable. If you or someone you know needs assistance, contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.

Each state provides for the legal requirements to create a binding Last Will and Testament. Nevada law provides that you must be of sound mind and over the age of 18 years to create a valid will. The determination of capacity to execute a will is important to ensure the will is valid. To be deemed competent and of sound mind in Nevada, the individual (known as the Testator) must understand they are making a will, know what property they own and who their natural heirs are. If a testator has a form of dementia or Alzheimer’s, it does not automatically prevent the individual from creating a will. The testator may still have testamentary capacity if they are able to meet the test. If the testator ‘s competency is questioned, it is possible for an heir that would have inherited had the will not been created to challenge the will in court. It is important to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to avoid these types of potential challenges.

Under Nevada law, the will must be executed in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses. It is imperative that the two witnesses are not included as beneficiaries in the will and are disinterested parties. In the event one of the two subscribing witnesses is set to inherit under the will, all distributions to that witness will be deemed void. Additionally, a will has greater validity and is less easily challenged if the will includes a self-proving affidavit. This affidavit may prevent the need for the witnesses to testify in the event the will is challenged. The self-proving affidavit requires the witnesses’ signatures to be notarized and must follow the form provided for in the Nevada statute. Nevada is one of the few states that allows for the creation of an electronic will. The electronic will must contain the electronic signature of the Testator as well as the electronic signature of a remote notary public or two witnesses. The will must be maintained in an electronic record capable of being produced at a later date. To qualify as self-proving, the electronic will must designate a custodian who will maintain custody of the electronic record of the will.

Individuals desiring to create a Last Will and Testament should work with an attorney even though you are not required to do so. There are a number of do-it-yourself options available to individuals that unfortunately do not usually take into account each state’s unique laws or formalities. To help guarantee your will is binding in Nevada, it is important to work with a lawyer experienced with Nevada law. Our firm has successfully assisted many clients with their estate planning needs and we are ready to assist you. Contact our office today to speak with a Las Vegas estate planning attorney.