While the process to make a will online is similar in every state, there are differences. Each U.S. state has its own distinct requirements for making a will. These requirements must be met, otherwise your will might not be recognized as valid. When you make a will in Vermont, you must understand how to satisfy the specific statutes for the state. To make an online will, be sure to use an online will that is customized for Vermont.
Can I Make a Will Online in Vermont?
Yes, you can make a will online in Vermont. Any person who is at least 18 years old (or an emancipated minor) and who is of sound mind can make a will in Vermont. To make a will online, use an online will making service. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online last will and testament.
Here are the legal requirements to make a will in Vermont:
- It must be in writing.
- The Testator (the person writing the will) must sign the will in front of two witnesses, and
- The witnesses must sign the will in front of the Testator and each other.
After making an online will, you must print it out. Some states allow a digital-only will, which means the will can be made online, signed, and witnessed electronically without making a paper copy. However, most states still require a paper copy with physical signatures. The state of Vermont does not currently allow digital-only wills.
In Vermont, your witnesses can be any adult person generally competent to act as a witness; though, your witnesses should be “disinterested parties” (meaning, they are not beneficiaries in the will). An “interested” witness risks losing any provisions left to them in the will. An exemption to this is if the witness is an heir at law (meaning that they would stand to inherit if the person died without a will).
Does Vermont Require a Notarized Will?
When a will is presented in the probate court, it must be validated. Having a notarized will can help the probate court to quickly validate the will and allow the executor of the estate to carry out the will. However, in most cases the will itself is not what gets notarized; instead, there is a separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit” which is notarized and attached to the will.
Most states allow self-proving wills, but there are some exceptions. Until recently, Vermont did not have any statute that allowed for a will to be “self-proved.” 14 V.S.A. § 108 now allows for a will to be “self-proved.”
To “self-prove” a will in Vermont, you and your witnesses will make sworn statements in front of a notary public. You then attach the notarized sworn statements to your will, making it “self-proved.”
These sworn statements (affidavits) act as though the testimony was made before the court itself, which allows the court to automatically accept a will as valid without requiring the witnesses to appear before the court. Vermont also passed a bill that allows for “Emergency Administrative Rules for Remote Notarial Acts.” In times of declared emergency, Vermont allows a will to be notarized remotely.
Can I Name an Executor in Vermont?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will in Vermont (which you can also do in a will you make online). The executor is the person designated to settle the estate and ensure that the will is followed after the Testator’s death. You want to choose someone you know well and trust; you want this person to be able to handle all the requirements of an executor. Be sure you discuss naming them as an executor before you actually do so—you want to make sure they are up to the task. If you do not name someone as the executor in your will, the probate court will appoint an executor to handle the estate.
For someone to be able to serve as an executor in Vermont, they must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be of sound mind.
While many states disallow people with felony convictions to act as an executor, Vermont has no statute prohibiting this.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in Vermont:
- The probate court judge must approve a nonresident executor, and
- The nonresident executor must appoint an in-state resident to act as an “agent” to accept legal papers on behalf of your estate.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Vermont?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will in Vermont. For people with relatively simple estates and straightforward wills, online will making is a good option. Be sure you satisfy all the legal requirements for a will to be recognized as valid in Vermont, and use an online will making service that has state-specific templates.
However, if you have a large or complex estate with a complicated will, it is always best to consult an estate planning attorney.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Vermont?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Vermont, whether the will is made online or not.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Vermont?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament. It is written and signed by the Testator (the person making the will). In Vermont, holographic wills are not considered legally binding. However, the state will recognize a holographic will if it was made and executed in a jurisdiction that recognizes them.
Vermont requires a will to be witnessed to be considered valid, and that is why holographic wills are not recognized in the state. It is not due to it being handwritten but because it has no attesting witnesses. This does not mean you should handwrite your will and have it witnessed—it is better to use an online will template designed for the state. Many people who try to handwrite their will often leave out important provisions, use unclear language, or have illegible handwriting. To avoid unnecessary legal complications, you should use an online will making service.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Vermont?
A nuncupative will is an oral will. Some individuals wish to leave oral wills on video. While nuncupative wills are not ideal, they are allowed in Vermont under certain conditions:
- A nuncupative will can only distribute personal estate that does not exceed the value of $200,
- It must be reduced to writing by someone who witnessed the Testator make the declaration within 6 days, and
- It must be submitted to probate within 6 months of the Testator’s death.
Vermont also allows active duty members of U.S. armed forces and mariners at sea to dispose of their wages and other personal estate in a nuncupative will.
While a nuncupative will is generally considered a last resort type of will and Vermont does recognize nuncupative wills if they meet the above requirements, it is always best to have a properly executed written will. If time and health allow, a written, witnessed, and legally binding will is much better for avoiding legal delays when settling the estate.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Vermont?
A living will, also called an advance directive, is a legal document which gives instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. A living will and a last will and testament are two separate documents. If you leave medical directives or any end-of-life care stipulations in your last will and testament, your wishes will not be enforced. In addition, as wills are typically not consulted until after a person’s death and funeral, your family would likely not know about any of your wishes in regards to medical decisions/end-of-life care. Both living wills and last will and testaments are legally binding, but they both have different requirements to become valid. You can, however, make both a living will and a last will and testament online.
It is your responsibility to inform your family and your medical providers that you have a living will. You can change or revoke a living will at any time. A living will also has certain conditions before it comes into effect. To read more about living wills in Vermont, you can go here.
Here is an overview of the basic requirements for a living will in Vermont:
- The declarant (the person making the living will) must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind.
- It must be attested by two or more witnesses. These witnesses cannot be your relatives or a beneficiary who stands to inherit from your estate.
The state of Vermont maintains an online Directives Directory (VADR). While it is optional, registering is highly encouraged as it allows for immediate access when needed. You can also find the required forms to construct a living will in the directory.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Vermont?
When someone dies without a will, the state has laws that determine what happens next. These laws are known as intestacy laws. The state of Vermont will also appoint a guardian for any minor children and an executor of the estate to pay any debts and to handle the distribution of property. Property is often held up in probate court for months at a time while the court determines how to divide the estate between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Vermont. If the court exhausts all options and determines you have no surviving family, the state can also take ownership of your estate.
To avoid such a complicated legal process, you should make a will. It is especially important to make a will if you have minor children—and if you want to distribute your property in a specific way (as well as to non-family members), you can only do that if you make a will in Vermont.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Vermont?
Besides naming an executor for the estate, the following can be included when making a will online in Vermont:
- You can appoint a guardian for any minor children, and you can appoint someone to oversee any property left to minor children.
- You can name someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can distribute family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- You can distribute other personal or sentimental items
- You can leave property or gifts to individuals, charities, or other organizations.
- You can specify exactly how you want your estate to be distributed.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Vermont?
You do not want to include funeral arrangements, medical directives, or end-of-life care desires in your last will and testament. Usually, when a person dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. After the funeral, the will is read and the estate is settled. If funeral instructions are left in the will, family members may not know about them until after the funeral. The same is true, of course, for end-of-life care stipulations. In addition, any such desires for medical directives or end-of-life care left in a will are not considered to be legally valid even if your family knows what your will contains.
To designate end-of-life care, create a living will. You must follow the requirements of the state to create a valid living will.
To leave your funeral directions, there is no special form. You don’t have to even write anything down if you don’t want to—you can talk with family members, describing your wishes for your funeral arrangements. Though if you want, you can make an informal document detailing your desires. Your family can then easily refer to the document when the time comes to arrange the funeral. If you choose to write up a document with funeral directions, you should give copies of it to the executor of your estate and/or other trusted family members.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Vermont?
Once you execute a valid will, it becomes a legally binding document (whether made online or otherwise). But, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Vermont, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- Perform a revocatory act on the will with the intent of revoking it (by physically destroying the will).
- Order someone to perform a revocatory act for you and in front of you.
- Write a new will that explicitly states it revokes the old one, or write a new will that implicitly revokes the old one by having contradictory terms in it.
With any change in your family (like marriage or divorce; birth or adoption of a child) or your financial situation (like acquisition of significant assets), you should revisit your will. If you need to make major changes to the will, it is better to revoke the old will and write a new will. However, if you only need to make small changes or additions, you can instead make an amendment (called a codicil) and attach it to your will. A codicil must be finalized with the same formalities as a will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Vermont?
When you make a will in Vermont, you want to take these steps to finalize it:
- Have it in writing (if you make a will online, you must print it out),
- Sign it in front of two witnesses,
- Have your witnesses sign it in front of you and each other.
To “self-prove” a will in Vermont, you and your witnesses will make sworn statements in front of a notary public. You then attach the notarized sworn statements to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Vermont:
- Vermont offers the ability to deposit a will to the probate court (in the district where the Testator resides) for safekeeping. There is a $2.00 fee to do so.
- Divorce does not impact your will in Vermont. If you divorce, Vermont law does not automatically revoke any language that benefits your former spouse. If you do not want your ex-spouse to receive any provisions you left them in your will, you need to revoke or change your will.
We tested multiple online will services to find out which ones produce the best last will and testament. Of all the wills we created—and had our lawyer review—USLegalWills had the best end product. To make an online last will and testament, we recommend USLegalWills.