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What makes a will valid in Connecticut?

When you craft your estate plans, you certainly want your wishes to be followed -- and that means making certain that you don't accidentally invalidate your will.

It can happen easier than you think. A lot of people get into trouble because they use generic wills that they find online, never realizing that something about them is incompatible with Connecticut's probate laws. Here are some of the basics you need to keep in mind:

1. Valid wills have to be signed and witnessed

In some states, holographic (handwritten) wills are considered valid even if they aren't signed or properly witnessed. In other states, an oral will is even sufficient in certain cases.

That's not possible, however, in Connecticut. The only will that can be recognized is one that is written, signed by the testator and properly witnessed in the testator's presence by two people. If any of those elements are missing, the will is invalid.

2. A will can only be revoked in specific ways

Similarly, a testator's change of heart won't invalidate his or her will. To do that, the testator has to destroy the will physically or write a new will that revokes all others. Even when a couple separates, gifts left in a will to a spouse are still considered valid until the divorce is final (unless the will is rewritten).

3. The language of a will needs to be clear

Another reason that online wills are discouraged is that the boilerplate language used in such forms may contain contradictions in terms or be confusing -- which can quickly prompt an heir to contest its terms in court.

If you're ready to get your estate plans started, find out more about how wills work and what basic legal protections you should acquire.

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