To make a valid will under Wisconsin law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Signed by two witnesses.
The requirements for a valid will in Wisconsin can be found at Wisconsin Statutes § 853.03.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In Wisconsin?
Any person of sound mind 18 years of age or older may make a valid will under Wisconsin law. Wisconsin Statutes § 853.01.
To be of sound mind to make a valid will under Wisconsin law, the testator must:
- Comprehend the nature, the extent and the state of affairs of his property;
- Know and understand his relationship to persons who are or might naturally or reasonably be expected to become the objects of his bounty from which he must be able to make a rational selection of his beneficiaries;
- Understand the scope and general effect of the provisions of the will; and
- Contemplate these elements together for a sufficient length of time, without prompting, to form a rational judgment in relation to them, the result of which is expressed in the will.
The elements of testamentary capacity to make a valid will under Wisconsin law are discussed in In Matter of Estate of Becker, 76 Wis. 2d 336 (1977).
A Valid Wisconsin Will Must Be Signed By The Testator
There are three ways that a testator can sign a will under Wisconsin law.
First, a testator can sign the will himself.
Second, the testator can sign with the assistance of another person with the testator’s consent.
Third, another person can sign the testator’s name at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s conscious presence.
A Valid Wisconsin Will Must Be Witnessed
In order to be valid, a Wisconsin will must be witnessed and signed by at least two witnesses.
The witnesses must sign the will within a reasonable time after any of the following:
- The signing of the will in the conscious presence of the witness;
- The testator’s implicit or explicit acknowledgment of the testator’s signature on the will, in the conscious presence of the witness;
- The testator’s implicit or explicit acknowledgement of the will, in the conscious presence of the witness.
The two witnesses are permitted to observe the signing or acknowledgement of the will at different times. See Wisconsin Statutes § 853.03.
Does a Will Have To Be Notarized In Wisconsin To Be Valid?
No, there is no requirement under Wisconsin law that in order for a will to be valid the will must be notarized. However, a Wisconsin will may be simultaneously executed, attested, and made self-proved by the affidavit of the testator and witnesses. A self-proof affidavit must be done in front of a notary. Making a will self-proving under Wisconsin law makes the probate process easier after death because the witnesses will not have to testify as to the proper execution of the will.
Section 853.04 contains the form for a self-proving affidavit, and should be substantially complied with to make a Wisconsin will self-proving.
The best way to make sure that you have made a will that is valid under Wisconsin law and that carries out your testamentary wishes is to consult with a Wisconsin probate lawyer.