This content is researched and written independently of the views or opinions of Online Will Makers' editorial team. Online Will Makers may earn a commission from purchases of products featured on this website. Full disclosure available here.

What is a Testator?

What is a Testator? Even though a last will and testament is an essential document for every adult individual, it’s a relatively complicated legal form. A person who is planning to create a will needs to know what different terms associated with the will creation process mean, what requirements this document needs to meet, and what is necessary to create a will. In this article, we will define who a will testator is and explain the requirements a testator has to meet.

What is a Testator in a Will?

A testator or testatrix is a person who creates a Last Will & Testament. Today, the word “testator” is used to refer both to males and females. However, in the past, the term “testatrix” was used to refer to female will creators.

Requirements for Will Testators

Each state sets its own requirements for will testators. However, in most jurisdictions, these requirements are very similar and come down to two things: age and mental state.

In the majority of jurisdictions, only people aged 18 and over can create a legally valid last will and testament. However, some states such as Florida allow military personnel to create a valid will even if the individual has not yet become a legal adult.

Another ubiquitous requirement is mental competency. In most jurisdictions, a will testator must be “of sound mind” when they create, alter, or revoke their will. Witnesses to a will may be called to testify to the testator’s mental state in court if it’s called into question.

Why Should a Testator Create a Last Will & Testament?

The future is unpredictable. Anyone could meet their untimely demise at any time. If a testator or testatrix doesn’t have a Last Will & Testament, the task of dividing their estate falls to the courts. This scenario doesn’t just include bank accounts and property – a judge can also determine the custody of any minor children.

In short, a will acts as a person’s (or testator’s/testatrix’s) voice from beyond the grave.

When Should a Testator Draft a Will?

When a testator or testatrix acquires significant assets (e.g., a home, sizable investments, etc), they should strongly consider creating a Last Will & Testament. Once dependants enter the equation, a will is practically a necessity.

Nobody knows when their time on Earth is up. The division of assets/custody of children should not be left to the legal system. A will gives a testator or testarix the power to decide.

Does a Testator Need a Lawyer To Make a Will Legally-Binding?

No. In the past, experts strongly advised testators of a will to seek legal counsel, as information on will creation was not readily available. Today, the internet has made this info easily accessible. Those comfortable taking a DIY approach can now create a legally-binding will without lawyer involvement by choosing one of the best online will makers on the market.

Who Should a Testator Name in Their Will?

The vast majority of the time, a testator/testatrix will leave their estate to their family. However, they can name anyone they please as a beneficiary. They aren’t limited to naming people either – testators often leave money to charitable organizations and other bodies. In the past, there have even been cases of testators/testatrixes leaving their estate to their pets. Keep in mind that one of the biggest estate planning mistakes you can make is not listing alternative or backup beneficiaries in your will, so always try to name at least one alternative beneficiary for each asset you’re leaving.

What Does a Testator Need to Do to Produce a Will?

Drafting a will involves a great deal of thought. However, the will creation process has never been more straightforward. Numerous Last Will & Testament websites charge significantly less than lawyers.

  • Choosing a site is the most challenging part. However, this website makes the selection process a breeze, as we lay out each service’s strengths and weaknesses. By taking a couple of hours, testators can find one that fits their needs.
  • Once a testator selects a will creation service, they’ll input all the information their site asks for. This task involves the addition of beneficiaries, the executor, the guardian of any minor children, and other information into an easy-to-understand form.
  • One warning, though – it’s crucial that a testator is clear about who gets what. If they aren’t, their loved ones could end up fighting over their assets in court.

A Testator Must Sign Their Will To Make It Legally-Binding

A testator doesn’t need a lawyer to create a will. However, there are a few legal quirks they mustn’t ignore. First, to make their Last Will & Testament legally-binding, they must sign it. Not only that, but two witnesses must be present and sign it as well.

The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries or under the age of 18. Other than that, anybody can serve as a witness. Once signed and dated by all parties, a testator’s will becomes legally valid.

Final Thoughts

Today, becoming a testator and creating a will is easier than ever. You don’t need to hire a lawyer and pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a document that leaves everything to your spouse or children. As long as you meet the requirements for testators in your state, you can go online and create a legally valid will in as little as 15 minutes. There are over a dozen different online will-making services to choose from, so you will definitely find a company that meets your needs and preferences.