The execution of a will is a critical step in ensuring the distribution of your assets according to your wishes. In Virginia, as throughout the country, the execution of a will must adhere to specific state requirements to be considered valid. For this reason, it is essential to have an experienced estate planning attorney guide you through the process. 

In Virginia, contacting Randall J. Borden, Attorney at Law to ensure that your will is soundly drafted and properly executed is a wise move. With 30 years of successful estate planning under his belt, he is well-positioned to make sure that you avoid any legal complications in the process. You can count on Attorney Borden to see to it that your intentions are carried out and your loved ones are protected.

Legal Requirements for Proper Execution of a Will in Virginia and Maryland

The legal requirements for executing a will properly in Virginia and Maryland are similar, with some notable differences as explained below: 

Age and Mental Capacity 

In both states, the testator (the person making the will) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. A sound mind means having the mental capacity to understand the nature of the will, the nature and extent of the property, and the identity of those who are heirs, known legally as “the natural objects of the testator’s bounty.”

Written Document

To be considered valid, wills must be written. While typically wills are typed or printed, both Maryland and Virginia also recognize handwritten (holographic) wills, but only if they are written entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed.


In Virginia, a will must be signed in the presence of two competent adult witnesses, who must also sign the will in the presence of the testator. While Maryland also requires two witnesses, it allows the witnesses to sign the document later as long as the testator acknowledges being the creator and signator of the signed will.


Although notarization is not a requirement in either state, notarization is important if the will is to be “self-proving,” which expedites probate and lessens the risk of a contested will.

Consequences of Improper Execution of a Will

An improperly executed will lead to severe consequences, including:

  • The will may be invalidated in which case the estate will be distributed according to state laws of intestate succession, as if the testator had never created a will at all. These laws, not the testator’s wishes, will determine how the estate is distributed.
  • Disputes among family members and beneficiaries are much more likely to arise if asset distribution is determined by the court. If the will is contested, a costly and prolonged legal battle is likely to follow.
  • The probate process may be delayed, resulting in increased legal costs that may whittle down the value of the estate by the time assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. This, in turn, may lead to further arguments or even estrangements among family members.

How Randall Borden Can Help You Avoid Improper Execution of a Will

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney is vital when it comes to navigating the complexities of will execution. Attorney Borden will make certain that your will:

  • Is compliant with state laws since he has a thorough understanding of Virginia state laws and extensive experience making sure his clients’ documents meet every requirement.
  • Clearly and precisely articulates your wishes. His ability to use exact wording and correct legalese when necessary to prevent ambiguity reduces the likelihood of disputes among beneficiaries.
  • Avoids common pitfalls. During his long-term experience, Randall Borden has seen a wide range of common errors in will execution and has become sensitized to catching mistakes and clarifying possible confusions. You can count on his ability to craft your will carefully so that it cannot be misinterpreted.
  • Is part of a customized estate plan. At Randall Borden, Attorney at Law, we know that your circumstances are unique and will tailor your will, like all other documents of your estate plan, to specifically meet your needs and goals.

Most importantly, we will provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your will has been professionally and skillfully prepared.

Legal Skills You Can Count On for Proper Will Execution

Preparing and executing a will is both a significant step and a personal commitment and, as such, must be handled carefully. Randall Borden has the capabilities you need to accomplish this task efficiently and effectively, including:

  • In-depth legal knowledge of state-specific laws governing wills and estate planning.
  • Attention to detail to facilitate meticulous preparation and review of estate documents.
  • Excellent communication skills needed to explain complex legal concepts in understandable terms and to listen and respond to client questions and concerns.
  • Discretion and sensitivity in handling family dynamics and personal information respectfully and confidentially.
  • Problem-solving abilities that enable him to anticipate and address potential legal issues proactively.

Contact Our Experienced Will Attorney in Fairfax, VA

Improper execution of your will can have a negative impact not only on the distribution of your assets but also on the emotional well-being of your loved ones. Engaging an experienced and skilled estate planning attorney is crucial in ensuring that your final wishes are honored and that your estate is handled efficiently and respectfully. Contact our office now to get off on the right track.