How to Legally Make a Will in Wisconsin

Attorney Thomas B. Burton discusses how to legally make a Will in Wisconsin and he covers the essential elements that every Will must have in order to be legally valid under Wisconsin law. In this short video, Attorney Burton will over the required legal elements to legally make a Will in Wisconsin and discusses how you can meet each element in order to make your own legally valid Last Will and Testament in Wisconsin.


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Welcome back, I'm Attorney Thomas Burton. I'm an estate planning and asset protection attorney here in Wisconsin and today's video is 'How to legally make a will in Wisconsin'.

So today, I want to talk about the five essential elements you need to make a will in Wisconsin and I'm going to run through those five, so you can watch this video and know exactly what the legal requirements are to make a will in Wisconsin.


So let's get right into it. The first factor is age. You must be age 18+, in the state of Wisconsin, to make a will that's considered the age of majority in Wisconsin or the age you are a legal adult. Number two, you must have capacity and this is defined as sound mind. Now the test for capacity is not easily definable as a Black Letter Law but generally you must know the objects of your bounty meaning you must know what you possess and what you want to do with it in order to make a will.


So if you have questions about capacity, you should discuss it with your lawyer because they're really in the best position to be able to tell you if you or someone else has the capacity to execute a will but for most healthy people, if you know the objects of your bounty and you know what you possess and what you want to do with it, you need to have that capacity on the date you signed the will.


Third, in Wisconsin, the will must be in writing. We do not allow oral wills, spoken nor do we allow handwritten wills like writing on a napkin. Some states allow a handwritten will, what they call a holographic will. I know states out west, allow those more than western culture where that may have been popular but in Wisconsin, it must be in writing and in writing we mean typed.


So once you have your will in writing and typed up and ready to sign and today I'm not going to talk about everything you can do with a will but in general, you can name heirs, you can name your own personal representative, you can choose guardians for a minor children. You can do all that within the will and choose who you want to receive your property after your death but after you have it all put together and typed on paper, in order to make it legally valid, we need the signature of the Testator and the Testator is the person who makes the will. So if I'm talking to you, if you're making the will, you're the testator. So whoever is making the will for themselves, that's who we call the testator. So we need their signature in ink, on the will and then we need the signature of two witnesses, two disinterested witnesses must sign the will, after the testator and in general, I like to do this all together. Have the testator sign and the witnesses witness them, witness the signature, sign and date, at the same time. So that's what's legally required to make a will. Now we can get into more topics about what you can do with the will and things like that and even about signing the will like I say, the best method is get your witnesses in the room with you and watch you sign, when you sign your will. Because the law says, conscious presence and that's defined as within the five senses and generally, under case law and the statutes, we believe that means you need to be within sight and sound of each other to be conscious present.


So for more on the exact legal requirements, you can check out Wisconsin statute, chapter 853. Google that, this is a brief summary of the five requirements needed to make a legally valid will in Wisconsin. If you want to learn more about the specifics, you can check out my Estate Planning 101 series, where I go in depth on some of these topics and/or check out my video on how you can make your own basic will for free in Wisconsin.


So I hope this has been helpful to you. If it has, consider giving it a like and subscribing to the channel, so that more people can see and benefit from this information as well.

Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.


© 2020 Burton Law LLC. All Rights Reserved. Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired. For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact the office.