There are a few elements required to ensure a will’s validity is in check. Without these, someone may challenge the will and cause the entire distribution process to come to a screeching halt. When a will is presented in probate court, the first thing the judge looks for are the crucial parts that mean it is legal. Therefore, when it comes to drafting a will, understanding what makes it withstand scrutiny may help in keeping the entire thing legal. Discover the parts of a will that are required to keep it moving through the court.
Intent and Capacity
When you draft a will, you need to make your identity and your intentions well known. If you have prepared previous versions of the same document, you must clearly state that this draft supersedes all previous ones. Since you are likely changing vital elements from one draft to the next, stating your intentions clearly and early can help keep any confusion to a minimum. You must also say that you intend this to act as your voice in your death and that these wishes are yours. Mental capacity is becoming a significant reason people are challenging wills. If you want to be sure this does not happen in your case, you may want to get your physician to write a letter to this effect and have it dated the same as your will.
Signature and Witnesses
A will is not valid unless you have signed it in the presence of witnesses. Some states require a notarized signature. However, in many instances, you may have two unrelated people witness your signature. These can be people who work at the law firm or from the coffee shop downstairs. The only requirement for witnesses is that they be 18 or older and that they not be named heirs in the will. Unsigned wills cause problems in courts at an alarming rate.
No Undue Influence or Fraud
Your will must be a complete picture of your wishes for what happens to your property. You must create it with your family in mind, even if they may not like some of your decisions. You must also attest or swear that you are not committing fraud or coerced into making some of the choices you made. Undue influence is the act of pushing someone into disinheriting family members in favor of him or her. An example may be a stepmother who has a new husband change his will to leave his estate to her and disinherit his grown children. If they can prove undue influence, they may win the case.
Your best bet is to have a professional living will lawyer, like a living will lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, help draft your document. You should locate one close to you who may be able to help.
Thanks to Klenk Law for their insight into ensuring that a will is legal.