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Vermont Wills Laws

Having a valid will can mean the difference between your property being distributed according to your wishes, or having your property distributed according to a pre-set arrangement provided by the state. This arrangement (called "intestate succession") is used in the event that you do not have a will or your will is invalid.

If you fall into either of these categories, when your estate is distributed, the court will work down your family tree and distribute your property to those most closely related to you. So if you would like your money to go to your best friend or favorite charity instead of your estranged family members, it is very important that you have a valid will.

What is a Will?

A will is basically a written document that states what you want to have happen to your property after your death. It directs where your assets go after you die.

Creating a Will in Vermont

There are certain requirements which must be met for a will made in Vermont to be considered legal.

The law requires that:

  • The maker of the will (called the testator) be at least eighteen (18) years old and of sound mind.
  • The will must be written. (An oral will may be considered legal only in certain unusual circumstances.)
  • You will need two (2) witnesses to your will.

However, later proof of any fraud, duress, or undue influence on the testator may cause the will to be invalid.

Put it in Writing

Your valid will must be in writing and signed at the end by the testator (you) and by the two (2) witnesses. If the testator cannot physically sign his or her name, he may direct another party to do so. This party may not be one of the witnesses. Each witness must sign the will in the testator’s presence.

Dying Without a Will

If a person dies without a will, the court gets to decide, based on state law, how to divide up the deceased's property. Even if the deceased expressed different wishes verbally during their lifetime, the statutes control the distribution. With a valid will, a person can legally determine how their property will be distributed and to whom.

The basics of Vermont's will laws are summarized below. See FindLaw's Wills section for more articles and resources.

Code Section Tit. 14 §1, et seq.
Age of Testator 18 years old and of sound mind
Number of Witnesses Attested and subscribed by two (2) or more credible witnesses in presence of testator and in presence of each other.
Oral Wills

Nuncupative Wills: A nuncupative will is one that is made orally in contemplation of imminent death. Nuncupative wills may not pass an estate valued at more than $200.00, must be written down by a person present during the bequest and must be admitted to probate in accordance with state laws.

Holographic Wills A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Vermont law does not explicitly allow holographic wills. All Vermont wills must be witnessed as discussed above.

Although it is possible to write a will on your own, only an attorney will be able to tell you if a will is the best option for your estate plan. As well, if you choose to make a will, an attorney will help you set up the will in order to avoid as much hassle and cost for your heirs.

If you would like to know more about the requirements and process for making a will in Vermont, there are many estate planning attorneys throughout the state, and in your local area, who may be able to help.

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