Summary of Rhode Island's Will Requirements:
|Minimum Age to Make a Will||18|
|Written Document Required||Yes|
|Nuncupative Wills (Oral)||No|
|Holographic Wills (Hand-Written, Unwitnessed)||No|
|Number of Witnesses Required||2|
|Statutory Form for Self-Proving Affidavit||Yes|
Statutes Governing Rhode Island's Will Requirements:
Testamentary capacity – Property subject to will
Every person of sane mind and eighteen (18) years or older in age, may devise, bequeath, or dispose of, by his or her will, executed in the manner required by this chapter, all real estate and all personal estate, which he or she shall be entitled to either at law or in equity at the time of his or her death and which, if not so devised, bequeathed or disposed of, would devolve upon the heir at law, or upon his or her executor or administrator, but not including an estate tail. The power hereby given shall extend to all real estate, including all estate per autre vie, and all estates, whether they shall be freehold or of any other tenure, and all estates, whether they shall be corporeal or incorporeal hereditaments, and also to all contingent, executor, or other future interests, in any real or personal estate, whether the testator may or may not be ascertained as the person or one of the persons in whom the estates respectively may become vested, and whether he or she may become entitled thereto under the instrument by which the estates respectively were created, or under any disposition thereof by deed or will, and also to all rights of entry for conditions broken and other rights of entry, and also to such of the same estates, interests and rights respectively, and other real and personal estate, as the testator may be entitled to at the time of his or her death, notwithstanding that he or she may become entitled to the same subsequently to the execution of his or her will.
Execution of will – Acknowledgment and attestation
No will shall be valid, except as provided in §§ 33-5-6 and 33-5-7, unless it shall be in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person for him or her in his or her presence and by his or her express direction; and this signature shall be made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two (2) or more witnesses present at the same time, and the witnesses shall attest and shall subscribe the will in the presence of the testator, but no form of attestation shall be necessary, and no other publication shall be necessary.
Persons in military service – Sailors
Any soldier or airman in actual military service, or any mariner or sailor at sea, may dispose of his or her personal estate by will as he or she might heretofore have done.
Wills conforming to laws of other states
Any last will and testament executed outside this state in the mode prescribed by the law, either of the place where executed or of the testator's domicile, shall be deemed to be legally executed, and shall be of the same force and effect as if executed in the mode prescribed by the laws of this state; provided, the last will and testament is in writing and subscribed by the testator.
Conformation to law at time of execution
A will of real or personal estate made and executed in conformity with the law existing at the time of execution, shall be effective to pass the estate.
Proof of will of nonresident
The will, duly executed, of any person who resides outside the state at the time of his or her death, may be proved before the probate court of any town where any property is situated upon which the will may operate.
Proof of wills when subscribing witnesses unavailable
Whenever it shall appear to a probate court, before which a purported will has been presented for probate, and whenever it shall appear to the superior court, before which a petition for probate of a will is pending on appeal, that a will cannot be proven as otherwise provided by law because one or more of the subscribing witnesses to the will, at the time the will is offered for probate, are serving in or present with the armed forces of the United States, or serving as merchant sailors, or are dead, or mentally or physically incapable of testifying, or otherwise are unavailable in the course of their service, the court may admit the will to probate upon the testimony in person or by deposition of at least two (2) credible disinterested witnesses that the signature to the will is in the handwriting of the person whose will it purports to be, or upon other sufficient proof of the handwriting. The foregoing provision shall not preclude the court, in its discretion, from requiring in addition, the testimony in person, or by deposition, of any available subscribing witness, or proof of such other important facts and circumstances as the court may deem necessary to admit the will to probate.
Proof of purported will or codicil
In the absence of objection by anyone interested in the estate of a deceased person, the probate court may admit to probate a purported will or codicil of the deceased person upon oral testimony or affidavit in the following manner:
(1) The oral testimony of any one of the subscribing witnesses as to the due execution of any purported will or codicil shall constitute sufficient evidence thereof.
(2) An affidavit by the subscribing witnesses or any one or more of them, to any purported will or codicil, executed at any time after execution of the will or codicil, whether before or after the death of the testator, before any officer authorized to administer oaths in or out of this state, stating the facts as the witnesses or witness would be required to testify to in court to prove the will or codicil, shall constitute sufficient evidence of the due execution of the purported will or codicil.
(3) An affidavit substantially in the form that follows shall be deemed to meet the requirements of subdivision (2) of this section:
In . . . . . . . . . . on this . . . . . . . day of . . . . . . ., 19 . . . ., before me personally appeared the undersigned, who, being duly sworn, depose and say that: they witnessed the execution of the will (codicil) of . . . . . . .; that the signature to the will (codicil) is in the handwriting of the testator or was made by some other person for the testator, in the testator's presence and by the testator's express direction; that the testator so subscribed the will (codicil) and declared the same to be his last will (a codicil to his last will) in their presence; that they thereafter subscribed the same as witnesses in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other; that at the time of execution of the will (codicil) the testator appeared to be of sound mind and eighteen (18) years of age or over; and that the signatures of the witnesses on the will are genuine.
Subscribed and sworn to before me on the day and date first above written,
[Reference - Rhode Island Requirements for a Will].