A will is the declaration of someone, regarding how they want their property to be distributed after they die. Generally speaking, for a will to be valid, it must include certain terms. For example, it’s drafter must:
- Be of sound mind,
- Be an adult,
- Express the document is their will,
- Sign and date the will, and
- Have two or even three witnesses.
Soldiers and sailors have long been exempt from the above stringent requirements of a traditional will. Because a sailor or soldier is in close proximity to extremely dangerous conditions, it is seen as appropriate that they can change their will as they see fit to accommodate their dangerous occupation. As such, anyone in "actual military service" has a lower standard when drafting their will. Military wills differ from traditional wills in several ways:
- The military will can be oral or written,
- The drafter of a military will can be a minor,
- The requirement of a witness is reduced to one, and sometimes none at all,
- The drafter of a military will can be in any physical or mental condition, and
- Only the personal estate of the drafter of a military will can be devised, not any real estate.
If you are having a dispute over or the estate of a soldier or sailor or are contesting a will, and think that a military will is an issue, it is recommended that you contact a wills and trusts or estate lawyer. Only an attorney near you will be able to adequately explain the issues and help defend your rights.