Making a will is similar in every state; however, there are important differences that you must know before you begin to make your will. West Virginia has its own distinct requirements for a will to be recognized as valid; if you fail to meet these specific stipulations, the court likely will not accept your will. It would be the same as if you died with no will at all. In order to make sure your will is enforceable, you want to fully understand what the state law requires. It is always best to make an online will in West Virginia using a template that is designed for the state.
Can I Make a Will Online in West Virginia?
Yes, you can make a will online in West Virginia. We recommend USLegalWills to make a will online.
The general requirements for making a will apply to making a will online. The statutory requirements for a will to be valid in West Virginia are:
- The Testator (the person making the will) must be at least 18 and be of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing. If you make an online will in West Virginia, you must print it out.
- The Testator must sign (or acknowledge) the will in front of two competent witnesses.
- The witnesses must sign the will in front of the Testator and each other.
Your witnesses (or the spouse of) should not also be beneficiaries in your will. West Virginia law may void any provision you leave to someone who also acts as the witness to your will—and this includes spouses. It is best to choose two people who are completely “disinterested,” or two people who do stand to inherit from your will and who are not married to anyone who stands to inherit.
After making an online will, you must print it out and sign it. 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 West Virginia does not currently allow digital-only wills.
Does West Virginia Require a Notarized Will?
No, you are not required to notarize your will for it to be considered valid. However, you can take the extra step to “self-prove” your will, which requires notarization. After a will is presented to probate, the court must validate it. This requires the witnesses to your will to testify to its authenticity. This can become a lengthy process, especially if the witnesses cannot be located or are otherwise unable to testify. To avoid this, West Virginia allows you to “self-prove” your will.
To “self-prove” your will in West Virginia, your witnesses must swear in an affidavit before a notary public to the validity of your will. You attach any and all notarized affidavits to your will, and now it is considered “self-proved.”
Once your will is “self-proved,” the court can generally automatically accept the will as valid. Witnesses are not required to testify as affidavits made before the notary are the same as if they were made before the court. This can help speed up the process of validating your will, allowing it to enter into probate much quicker.
Can I Name an Executor in West Virginia?
In West Virginia, an executor can be named in an online will. The person appointed to settle the estate, ensuring that the will is followed, is known as an executor of the estate. It is wise to name someone as the executor in your will—otherwise the court appoints someone (which may cause delays). You want to pick someone you know well and trust; be sure to discuss it with them before naming them in your will. The executor has a wide array of responsibilities, from paying debts to distributing assets according to the will. You want to make sure the person you are considering to name is up to the job.
Unlike many states, West Virginia does not have many requirements for a person to qualify to serve as an executor of an estate. You are free to name any adult person who is generally competent (which means, your executor must be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind). The court is then required to appoint that person as the executor, unless there is clear evidence that the person is incompetent or negligent.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in West Virginia:
- An out-of-state executor may be required to post bond—you can waive this if you indicate it in your will—and to appoint the clerk of the county commission (of the county where the estate is being probated) to act as an in-state agent. The in-state agent accepts any legal documents on behalf of the estate.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in West Virginia?
No, West Virginia does not require you to use an attorney to make a will. If you have an uncomplicated will and a simple estate, online will making is a good option. It is always best to consult an estate planning attorney if you have a large or complex estate though.
If you decide that using an online will making service is the right choice for you, make sure you use a template that is designed for West Virginia. You also want to make sure you satisfy all the legal requirements to execute a valid will.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in West Virginia?
Whether made online or not, any type of will that meets the legal requirements is valid in West Virginia.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in West Virginia?
A holographic will is a handwritten will that is signed only by the Testator (the person making the will). West Virginia does recognize holographic wills if the will is completely in the Testator’s handwriting and if it is signed.
However, holographic wills often face delays in probate court as they do not always include important provisions, and they must be proved authentic. When attempting to handwrite a will, people generally make mistakes that cause the court to reject the will. If the language is unclear, if there is a lack of testamentary intent, or if important provisions are not included—the court is likely to reject the will as valid.
In addition to that, the court also requires the handwriting to be validated as authentic, requiring witnesses to testify. In the end, a holographic will is scrutinized heavily and is easily contested. To avoid unnecessary legal complications, it is better to use an online will making service.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in West Virginia?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, sometimes known as a “deathbed will,” which people sometimes wish to leave on video. While nuncupative wills are not ideal, they are allowed in West Virginia only in certain circumstances.
In West Virginia, only those who are members of the U.S. armed forces in active duty or who are mariners at sea are allowed to make a nuncupative will—and the court requires that at least one person be able to testify to the validity of the will. The state will not recognize a nuncupative will from any other person.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in West Virginia?
A living will, also called an advance directive, is a legal document which gives instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. It is a separate legal document from a last will and testament. Typically, a last will and testament is not read until after the funeral, when the process to settle the estate begins—meaning, your family is unlikely to know about medical directives left in a will. Aside from that, a living will has different requirements to become legally binding than a last will and testament. You can make both a living will and a last will and testament online. For more information about living wills in West Virginia, you can go here.
After you make a living will, it is your responsibility to inform the relevant people. Make copies of it to give to the executor of your estate, your medical power of attorney (if you name one), your doctors or other medical providers, and family members.
In West Virginia, these are the requirements for a living will:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- It must be in writing.
- It must be signed and dated in the presence of two adult witnesses, who also must sign it.
- Witnesses cannot be: related to you by blood or marriage, entitled to any portion of your estate, directly financially responsible for your medical care, your attending physician, or your medical power of attorney.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in West Virginia?
When someone dies without a will, there are laws that determine what happens next. These are known as intestacy laws, and they differ from one state to the next. The court appoints an executor for your estate and names a guardian for any minor children. Your estate is then divided between surviving family members per the intestacy distribution laws of West Virginia. If you have a spouse but no children, if you have children but no spouse, if you have surviving parents, so on and so forth—the court will exhaust all options until your estate is dispersed according to the law. If, in the end, the court determines that you have no surviving family members, then the state can take ownership of your property.
If you have minor children or own property, or if you simply want to specify how you want your estate distributed, you must have a valid will in place. When you make an online will in West Virginia, be sure you satisfy all the legal requirements for executing a valid will.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in West Virginia?
In addition to naming an executor and appointing guardians for any minor children, you can also include the following when you make an online will in West Virginia:
- Name a guardian to oversee any property left to minor children.
- Name someone to care for any pets.
- Create a “pet trust” to financially provide for any pets.
- Leave property or gifts to family or friends.
- Leave property or gifts to organizations or charities.
- Distribute family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- Make requests for what to do with personal or sentimental items.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in West Virginia?
You should not include any funeral directions in your will. Funeral arrangements are usually made immediately. It is not until after that the will is read. Your family is unlikely to know about any directions you left for your funeral in your will until after it is already held.
To leave instructions for your funeral, you can talk with a family member to make your wishes known. You can also create a separate document that details what you wish for your funeral arrangements—just be sure to make copies and give them to the executor of your estate or other trusted family.
Any medical directives or end-of-life care stipulations will not be considered legally binding if left in a will. To have such decisions and desires be enforceable and effective, you want to create a living will.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in West Virginia?
Whether made online or otherwise, any will that is properly executed becomes a legally binding document. However, feel free to change or revoke your will at any time. You can change or revoke a will you made online in the same ways any will is changed or revoked.
In West Virginia, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- By destroying your will or your signature on it in any way as long as you destroy it with the intent of revoking your will. You can burn it, tear it, shred it, cut it, or otherwise physically destroy it in any way as long as it is done with the intention of revocation.
- By ordering someone else to physically destroy your will or signature in front of you.
- By making a new will that states it revokes the prior will, or
- By making another document that states it revokes the will (which you must finalize in the same way as your original will).
Whenever you have a change in circumstance, like after any major life event, it is a good idea to revisit your will. Any change to your family situation—marriage or divorce; birth or adoption of a child; relocation to a new state or country—is a good time to update your will. And likewise, any change to your financial situation—if you acquire new assets, for instance—is a good time to update it. If you are making major changes to your will, the best thing to do is to revoke your old will and make a new one. But, if you only need to make small adjustments, you can instead add an amendment with these changes to your will. This amendment is called a codicil, and a codicil must be finalized with the same formalities as your original will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in West Virginia?
After you make an online will in West Virginia, you must print it out. After that, you finalize it by:
- Signing it in front of two witnesses,
- Having your witnesses sign it in front of you and each other.
To “self-prove” your will in West Virginia, your witnesses must swear in an affidavit before a notary public to the validity of your will. You then attach any and all notarized affidavits to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in West Virginia:
- Divorce (or annulment) automatically revokes any provisions that benefit your former spouse, including if you named them as the executor. It is still wise to revisit and update your will after divorce.
- West Virginia has a simplified probate process for small estates, only if the estate: does not contain real estate and is under $100,000 in value; the personal representative is the sole beneficiary; or if all beneficiaries state there are no disputes, that the estate covers any debts or taxes, and the executor agrees to such.
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.