LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: Legal Requirements for Wills by Dr AbdelGadir Warsama, Legal Counsel, Bahrain

Dr AbdelGadir Warsama, Lega Counsel, Bahrain

Many parties ask about wills for different reasons and perspectives. Generally, in substantive law, a will is a legal document showing how real and personal property should be distributed after the death of the maker of the will “testator”. There are many reasons to support the importance of making a will. At least, it enables a person to dispose of property according to his wish. Estate refers to the interest that a person has in real and personal property. A good drafted will eliminates struggle over many questions and gives good outcome to both the maker of the will and likewise the beneficiary.

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There are different ways to dispose of property by will. The maker’s entire estate can be left to only one or more persons. This type is known as residuary gift, “I give all my property to x & z in equal shares”. A gift of specific real property is known as a devise, “I give my house no …, to my sister”.

It is particularly important, to know well the relevant laws regarding wills, as there are certain requirements for the validity of each will. However, in most countries, requirements for wills, include a testamentary capacity as being of sound mind and attainment of age of maturity, freedom from duress, undue influence, fraud, and as procedure, to put the document in writing and the presence of witnesses.

As a rule, a person must be capable of understanding the consequences of making the will. This is very crucial, as any evidence of mental incapacity or a physical condition that prevents the maker from understanding the effects of the will may invalidate it. Be careful, as some may do their best to invalidate the will. Also, a person must be free from any fraud or outside influences such as threats or pressure to leave property to certain person. A valid will must be witnessed and in writing. There are exceptional cases for having an oral will. Regarding writing, we need to say that, there is no special writing or standard form, however, the language must be clear and away from ambiguities. The will must be typed; however, a handwritten document could be exceptionally accepted. At the end, the will must be signed by the maker, witnesses and better notarized. To have a will to survive any invalidity the above points, inter alia, are to be thoroughly considered.

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