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Reviewing the Laws

Legal Requirements for a Will

To ensure that your will is legal and can be admitted to probate, it should meet these minimum requirements.


Your will should:

•    Be typed or printed.

•    Contain at least one provision disposing of your property.

•    Appoint an executor.

•    Be dated.

•    Be executed in accordance with the law, which means it must be—

•    Signed by you in front of two witnesses who know you are signing your will.

•    Signed by the witnesses.

These are the bare minimum requirements. A number of additional provisions should be in any well-drafted will to ensure that your entire estate is disposed of as you wish and to minimize the likelihood of challenges and disputes.


The witnesses should be adults who are not also beneficiaries. Although they need to know they are witnessing your will, they don’t need to read the will or know what is in it. The witnesses should pay close attention during the execution. If anyone later contests the validity of a will, the court may ask the witnesses to testify about what occurred during the signing.


To make a valid will, you  generally need to be over 18 and have “testamentary capacity.” “Testamentary capacity” means you  are mentally competent and requires that you  understand:

•    The purpose of a will.

•    That you are making a will.

•    The nature and extent of your property.

•    Who are the natural recipients of your generosity (i.e., what persons, typically family members, an individual in your position would normally want to leave property to).


Kentucky permits a self-proved will. A self-proved will contains a notarized affidavit signed by you  and the witnesses. A self-proved will can  be admitted to  probate without testimony from a witness that the will is genuine.


Kentucky also permits holographic wills.  These are wills that are written and signed by the testator.  Holographic wills don't need witnesses to the will but they do need a witness to verify the testator's handwriting.

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