What is a Testator?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A will is a legal document a person creates to establish asset distribution instructions for after his death. Typically, a person creates a will to name his heirs and determine which of his assets each heir will receive after he dies. A person who creates this legal document to plan for the distribution of his assets is called a testator. In most places, a person must be a legal adult in order to create a will. Additionally, each jurisdiction may have other requirements for creating wills and ensuring that they are valid.

A testator is a person who creates a will in order to plan for the distribution of assets.
A testator is a person who creates a will in order to plan for the distribution of assets.

One of the main requirements for creating a will involves age. In most cases, a testator must be a legal adult in his jurisdiction. There may be some special cases, however, in which an individual in the armed forces is allowed to create a will prior to becoming a legal adult. Such exceptions typically depend on the laws in the jurisdiction.

A testator is required to be of sound mind when he or she creates and signs a will.
A testator is required to be of sound mind when he or she creates and signs a will.

Besides age, a testator is usually required to be of sound mind when he creates and signs his will. If a person creates a will and it is later determined that he was not of sound when he did so, the will may be considered invalid. This usually applies not only to the creation of an original will, but also to changes made to it later. If an individual alters his will and cuts an heir out of it, for example, the change he made may only be valid if he was of sound mind when he signed it.

In most cases, a testator has to sign his will to make it valid, but his signature alone may not be enough. In many places, will creation laws require a will to be signed by the testator and two witnesses. When witnesses are required, their signatures mean they are swearing that the testator signed the document and was mentally stable when he signed it. Additionally, will creation laws often, but not always, require the witnesses to be uninterested parties. This typically means a person who creates a will has to find witnesses who don’t stand to benefit from it.

Some jurisdictions also require wills to be notarized. This typically means a testator and two witness sign the will in front of a notary public. The testator usually pays a fee to have the document notarized, and each of the signing parties is normally required to present identification.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


I think being a testator and having a will made up is being responsible for your loved ones.

When my uncle passed away unexpectedly, there was no will and my aunt was faced with some awkward and tough decisions.

If this had been discussed ahead of time and a legal will had been made up, it could have saved her so much agonizing. It was hard enough to deal with his unexpected passing, but then to have all the other stuff thrown at her, it was almost too much for her.

This motivated me to have a will made. We don't have a lot and our situation would not be as complicated as hers, but I think it is doing your loved ones a big favor by taking care of this when you are alive.


I think it is so important for families to have a will. You just never know what can happen, and if you have things legally written up, you can have peace of mind knowing it will go the way you want it to.

Having a simple will drawn up is not very time consuming or expensive. I think it is so much better for the family not to try and guess what needs to be done.

If a will is done and kept current, this is one less thing they have to deal with at a time when decisions can be very hard to make.


Does anyone know if someone with the power of attorney can become a will testator for another person?

My grandmother is quite ill and unable to write her will herself. She has given me power of attorney over her estate and she has made it clear that she wants a will. I wish she had done this sooner, but there was a lot going on in our family.

I am pretty sure that I could make something up for her to sign and no one would be contesting the will. But I feel it really isn't that necessary. My grandmother only has a few things of value and we already know as a family who gets what.


I recently went through the process of creating a legal will and it actually turned out to be really easy. You can buy will kits at most book stores that allow you to fill in the blanks with how you want your belongings distributed after your death.

One of the things I really liked about the do-it-yourself will was that it was very cheap. I think that unless you are dealing with large estates and wills for that, you don't need a lawyer involved.

My property isn't very large, and I feel like most of my things will just go to my wife and kids anyway, so there wasn't much need for a lot of hassle.

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