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What are the legal requirements for a will?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2024 | Estate Planning’s 2023 Wills and Estate Planning Study revealed that 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. do not have an estate plan. Planning for the future is an important step in ensuring that you can take care of your loved ones when you are no longer here.

Creating a will is a key aspect of estate planning, but it is essential to understand the legal requirements for drawing up this document so it is valid.

Basic requirements

In Pennsylvania, a valid will must be in writing. You, as the creator or testator, must sign it and it also must include the signatures of at least two individuals who serve as witnesses. These witnesses will validate the authenticity of the will in probate and must attest to your capacity and willingness to make your wishes known through the creation of the document.


Pennsylvania law also emphasizes the importance of clarity in a will. It should be evident from the document how you wish to distribute your assets among beneficiaries.


While not a requirement under the law, it can be helpful to sign the document in front of a notary. Notarization adds an extra layer of security to the will and contributes to the overall validity of the document.


Until your death, your will remains a private document. You can make amendments or even revoke it if circumstances change. However, if you make changes, they must follow the same legal requirements as the initial creation of the will.

In cases where a testator does not adhere to the legal requirements, the probate court can deem the will invalid. This can lead to the state determining the distribution of your assets. So, it is incredibly important to ensure you understand and meet the stipulated criteria for a valid will.