While the process to make a will online is similar in every state, there are differences. Delaware, like every state, has its own specific requirements to make a will valid. When you choose to make an online will, you have to follow the same requirements. To make an online will in Delaware, you must be sure to follow the specific statutes and use an online will making service with a template designed for Delaware.
Can I Make a Will Online in Delaware?
Yes, you can make a will online in Delaware. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online last will and testament.
The main legal requirements for a will to be valid in Delaware are:
- A Testator (the person writing the will) must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing.
- The Testator (or someone directed by and in the presence of the Testator) must sign the will.
- The will must be signed by two credible witnesses in the presence of the Testator.
- The state of Delaware does not allow digital-only wills.
Digital-only wills are ones that are made, witnessed, and signed all electronically. While some states allow for it, Delaware does not recognize digital-only wills. So, when you make a will online in Delaware, you must print it out and sign the physical copy for it to be recognized as valid.
Delaware does not prohibit beneficiaries in the will from acting as the witnesses. But it is usually a good idea to choose witnesses who are “disinterested parties” (or who are not beneficiaries in the will) to limit the potential of the will’s validity being contested over undue influence.
Does Delaware Require a Notarized Will?
No, Delaware does not require the will to be notarized. However, Delaware allows for wills to be “self-proved.” A self-proving will makes the probate process quicker because the court can accept the will without having to contact the witnesses who signed it.
To make a will “self-proved” in Delaware, you and your witnesses sign an affidavit (a sworn statement) in front of a notary public. You then attach this affidavit to your will. You can find a “self-proving” affidavit template for Delaware here under § 1305.
Can I Name an Executor in Delaware?
Yes, you can name an executor in Delaware. The person designated to settle the estate and ensure that the will is followed is known as the executor. You can name an executor when you make an online will in Delaware. It is a good idea to name someone you know and trust, and you should discuss it with them before you name them as the executor. If you do not name an executor, then the probate court will appoint someone.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Delaware:
- The executor must be at least 18 years old.
- The executor must not have been judged incapacitated by a court.
Many states disallow someone who has been convicted of a felony to act as an executor; however, Delaware does not have any statutory laws prohibiting that.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, Delaware requires that a nonresident executor files an irrevocable power of attorney that appoints the Register of Wills to act as an agent to accept legal papers.
For practical purposes, it is better to choose someone who lives nearby. The executor may have to handle matters for weeks, months, or sometimes even longer.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Delaware?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will in Delaware. It is wise to consult an estate planning attorney if your estate is large or complex. But in most cases, when your will is straightforward and your estate is simple, online will making is a good option. You want to use an online will making service that has templates customized for the state—and you want to be sure you follow the legal requirements for a will to be valid in Delaware.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Delaware?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Delaware, whether the will is made online or not.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Delaware?
No, you cannot make a holographic will in Delaware. A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament. It is written and signed by the Testator (the person making the will). Holographic wills often face delays in probate court as they must be proved authentic.
In Delaware, holographic wills are generally not enforceable. If an individual dies domiciled out of the state but owns property in Delaware, and if the holographic will is valid in the jurisdiction of where the holographic will was made, then the holographic will may be accepted. If the holographic will was made in Delaware, it is not valid.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Delaware?
A nuncupative will is an oral will. Some individuals wish to leave oral wills on video. In any state, a nuncupative will is considered an emergency or last resort type of will. If the individual is facing imminent death and has not drafted a written will, a nuncupative will is better than leaving no instructions at all.
Delaware does not recognize nuncupative wills. To avoid long legal delays when settling the estate, a legally binding will is a much better option if time and health allow.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Delaware?
A living will, also called an advance directive, is a legal document different from a last will and testament. A last will and testament and a living will are two separate documents. This is because the last will and testament is usually not consulted until after an individual’s funeral. If you leave medical directives or end-of-life care instructions in your last will and testament, your family might not know about them until after the funeral.
For medical directives and end-of-life care, you should create a living will to give to the care of your named executor (or another trusted individual).
In Delaware, the requirements for a living will are that you must sign and date it in front of two qualified witnesses who must also sign it. Just like you can make an online will in Delaware, you can also make a living will online. You can find a template for a living will for Delaware here.
For the witnesses to be qualified, they:
- Must be at least 18 years of age.
- Cannot be related to you in any way (blood, marriage, or adoption).
- Cannot be a beneficiary of your estate.
- Cannot have a claim (actual or potential) against your estate.
- Cannot have direct financial responsibility for your medical care.
If you are a resident in a long term care facility when you are signing, the witnesses may not be owners or employees of the facility. One of the witnesses must be a patient advocate or Ombudsman designed by the state of Delaware.
It is optional for the living will to be notarized.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Delaware?
If someone dies without a will, it is known as dying “intestate.” Every state has intestacy laws that determine what happens to property owned by someone who died intestate. The state will have to choose someone as the executor, and the state will have to appoint a guardian for any minor children. After that, the estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Delaware. It can become a lengthy legal process, holding up the estate in probate court for months at a time.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Delaware?
In addition to naming an executor for the estate, you can also include the following when you make an online will in Delaware:
- Appoint a guardian for minor children.
- Appoint someone to oversee any property left to minor children.
- Name someone to care for any remaining pets.
- Leave property or gifts to family, friends, individuals, charities, or organizations.
- Designate who receives family heirlooms and sentimental or personal items.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Delaware?
You should not include medical directives, end-of-life care stipulations, or funeral instructions in a last will and testament. Funeral arrangements are typically made immediately after death, and the will is not usually read until after the funeral. This means that any medical directives, end-of-life care stipulations, or funeral instructions left in a will might not be known until after the funeral.
For medical directives or end-of-life care, you want to make a living will.
To leave your funeral directions, you can talk with a family member and/or make a separate document describing what you wish for your funeral arrangements, and give it to the person you have named as executor of your estate (or another trusted individual).
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Delaware?
A will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. However, you can be change or revoke the will at any time.
In Delaware, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can physically destroy it—by burning, tearing, or destroying it in any other way—with the intent to revoke the will.
- You can order someone else to physically destroy it in front of you.
- You can make a new will revoking the old one or that has contradictory terms to the old one.
After any major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption, or acquisition of significant assets which change the distribution of property, or relocation to another state or country, you should update your will. It is best to do that by revoking the old one and making a new one. To make only minor changes to a will, add an amendment called a codicil—a codicil must be finalized in the same way that the original will is finalized.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Delaware?
To finalize a will you make online in Delaware, take these steps:
- Print out the document,
- Sign it, and
- Have two witnesses sign it in front of you.
It is better to sign the will in front of your witnesses but not legally required. The witnesses will be called to testify to its authenticity unless the will is “self-proved.” You should consider attaching a notarized affidavit to the will to “self-prove” it as this can help speed up the probate process and eliminate the need for witnesses to testify to its authenticity. Once you make an online will in Delaware and finalize it, then the will is valid.
USLegalWills is a leading provider of online wills. Their service has helped millions of people create a last will and testament over the last twenty years. We like that their services are easy to understand, reasonably priced, and produce an accurate document. You can also create a Living Will and other key end-of-life documents. It’s an affordable, accessible way to create an online last will and testament now. No more procrastinating. Get started with USLegalWills and leave your estate in order for your loved ones.