To make a valid will under South Carolina law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Witnessed and signed by two witnesses.
The requirements to make a valid will under South Carolina are found at S.C. Code § 62-2-502.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In South Carolina?
An individual who is of sound mind and who is not a minor may make a valid will under South Carolina law.
A minor is defined in the South Carolina Probate Code as “a person who is under eighteen years of age, excluding a person under the age of eighteen who is married or emancipated as decreed by the family court.” See S.C. Code § 62-1-201 (27).
To be of sound mind to make a valid will in South Carolina, a testator must understand:
- The nature and extent of his or her assets;
- The natural objects of his or her bounty; and,
- How he or she wants his or her assets to be distributed at death.
A South Carolina Will Must Be Signed By the Testator
A basic requirement to make a valid will in South Carolina is that the will is signed. The will can be signed by the testator (recommended) OR signed in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s direction. S.C. Code § 62-2-502.
Therefore, if there is some physical reason that the testator is unable to sign the will, a surrogate can sign for the testator, but only in the testator’s presence AND at the direction of the testator. If the will is signed for the testator outside of the testator’s presence or without the testator’s direction, the will is not valid under South Carolina law.
A South Carolina Will Must Be Correctly Witnessed
South Carolina law requires that a will is “signed by at least two individuals each of whom witnessed either the signing or the testator’s acknowledge of the signature or of the will.” S.C. Code § 62-2-502.
It is critically important that the witnesses either see the testator sign the will, or that the testator acknowledges his or her signature or the will when the witness signs.
Does a South Carolina Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid?
No, there is no requirement under South Carolina law that in order to be valid a will must be notarized. However, South Carolina law does allow you to make your will self-proving.
Any South Carolina will may be simultaneously executed, attested, and made self-proved. The self-proof of the will is effective upon the acknowledgement by the testator and the affidavit of at least one witness, each made before an officer authorized to administer oaths (a notary). The form of the self-proving affidavit is located at S.C. Code § 62-2-503, and should be strictly followed.
The best way to make sure you have created a valid will under South Carolina law is to work with a South Carolina probate lawyer. A probate lawyer can make sure that all testamentary formalities required by South Carolina law are complied with, and that your intent is effectively carried out by your will.