Legal Requirements of Wills in Delaware

By Joseph Nicholson

Delaware will laws are set forth in the Delaware Code. To be recognized as valid in Delaware, a will need not be executed in the state, nor convey assets located in the state, but only need to be valid according to the laws of the place in which it was executed at the time of execution or in the state in which the testator lived at the time of death. Any person over the age of 18 of sound mind can execute a will in Delaware.

Writing Required

Unlike some states, which may recognize oral wills in certain situations, a will must be in writing to be validly executed in Delaware. According to the Delaware Code, a valid will can be written by hand or in any other written format. It can also be in any language, so long as it is fixed in a written form. The statement of the witnesses must also be in writing. The testator -- the person the will belongs to -- must sign the document or have someone in her presence sing her name according to her express direction.


A will executed in Delaware must be signed before two credible witnesses who must themselves sign brief attestations that they witnessed the testator's signature. Unlike many states, however, any person generally capable of serving as a witness can do so, even if those who are entitled to receive property under the will. The Delaware Code states that, at probate, the witnesses must come forth and verify the validity of the will, but if the witnesses are unavailable, verification of their signatures will be sufficient. If one of the witnesses’ signature cannot be verified, but the other can, verification of the testator’s signature is good enough.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan


The testator can legally revoke a will -- in whole or in part -- at any time. This can be done by striking through the relevant portions or the entire document, or by a separate signed writing by the testator with two or more witnesses. Divorce or annulment automatically revokes any assignment of power or property to the former spouse in a will, but remarriage to the same spouse reinstitutes those provisions of the will unless the testator has taken one of the formal steps of revocation described above.

Self-Proving Wills

A will is considered self-proving and presumed valid if it meets certain statutory requirements. To be self-proving, the witnesses must complete an affidavit and have it notarized. The text of the affidavit is contained in section 1305 of Title 12 of the Delaware Code. The affidavits may be executed by the witnesses before a notary public either at the time the will is executed or any time afterward.

Scope of Testamentary Disposition

With few exceptions, a will in Delaware allows the person making the will to dispose of personal and real property in any manner she desires. Real estate interests acquired after the will is made are distributed consistent with the terms of the will. A testator can dispose of personal property not included in the will in a separate writing if it is signed and witness in the general manner required for wills, and if it is not inconsistent with another valid will. Under Delaware law, a will may establish a testamentary trust consisting of estate assets held on behalf of one or more beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can a Power of Attorney Sign a Will?



Related articles

California Laws Regarding Wills

California law requires that a testator, or the person making a will, be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. The statutes regarding mental competency to make a will are more extensive than those in most states. Under California Probate Code Section 6100, the testator must remember and understand his relationship with his beneficiaries and his bequests to him. He cannot suffer from any mental disorder resulting in delusions or hallucinations if his will contains unexpected bequests, and there are other criteria, as well.

What Is a Legal Will in Texas?

A legal will in Texas is one that satisfies the requirements of the Texas Probate Code, especially sections 57 to 71. These Texas statutes describe who can make a will, what can be done with a will and the process for making a will valid. A will can be revoked under Texas law by the creation of a subsequent valid will or codicil, or by the testator destroying the physical copies of the will. And, though not required, a will can be deposited with the clerk of the testator's county of residence for safekeeping during his lifetime.

Is a Notary Needed for a Will to Be Legal in Virginia?

Strictly speaking, a notary is not required for a will to be valid in Virginia. This isn’t to say that having a notary can’t be helpful. A will can be made self-proving through the work of a Virginia notary public, which eliminates the need for witnesses to validate the will during probate.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Are Holographic Wills Legal in the State of Tennessee?

A holographic will is a will that is written by hand instead of printed or typed. The state of Tennessee generally ...

Does a Power of Attorney Require Notarization?

Notarizing a legal document, such as a power of attorney, involves using the services of a notary public to ...

Is a Notary Needed for a Will to Be Legal?

The requirements of a valid will are determined by state law. Usually a will is subject to the laws of the state in ...

Requirements for a Legal Will in Minnesota

Anyone at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can execute a will in Minnesota. The state does not recognize oral or ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED