A will is not as confounding as Hollywood would have you think. Whenever we encounter wills in books, movies, or on TV, the circumstances always seem ominous. But exactly how do wills work? Put simply, a will is a person’s plan for what happens with his or her property after they die.
Of course, none of us want to think about dying ourselves or losing a loved one, but it’s always better to have a plan in place when the inevitable happens. And the First State has strict regulations on the way a will can be created, who can create one, and what it can cover. This is a brief summary of wills laws in Delaware.
A person's will could dictate anything from how the family business should be run to who gets a prized automobile. Delaware’s will statutes are generally similar to will laws in other states in most respects, and do not recognize oral, or non-written, wills.
Wills Laws in Delaware
Wills statutes in Delaware are highlighted in the chart below.
|Tit. 12 §201, et seq.
|Age of Testator
|18 years or older and of sound and deposing mind and memory
|Number of Witnesses
|Attested and subscribed in testator's presence by two or more credible, generally competent witnesses; need not be signed in presence of witnesses or that witnesses sign in the presence of each other.
|Nuncupative (Oral Wills)
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Delaware estate planning attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
The terminology used in Delaware estate planning laws can sound like inscrutable legalese, so the laws can seem confusing when first encountering them. So for clarification:
- The “testator” is the person whose after-death wishes are specified in the will;
- A “nuncupative” or oral will is one that is spoken or otherwise unwritten, and are not legally binding in Delaware; and
- A “holographic” will is a handwritten testament, which is only valid if it is executed by a U.S. Armed Forces serviceperson outside the country and only remains valid for one year.
Delaware Wills Laws: Related Resources
Trying to determine what happens to a person’s possessions after he or she passes away is serious, and creating a will, especially one that accomplishes everything the person intended, can be a daunting task. If you would like legal assistance in creating or interpreting a will, you can contact a Delaware wills attorney. You can also visit FindLaw’s Wills section for more articles and resources on creating and changing a will.