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Helping You Navigate Complex Legal Issues

Avoiding the common mistakes that can invalidate a will

Gregory A. Lang

Minnesota residents who are looking into creating a will may be interested in an article detailing some common mistakes that a court could use to invalidate the document. Avoiding these issues may help to ensure that the person's intentions are clear and followed when dispensing their property.

One of the biggest problems that can invalidate a will is incapacity. If a will is otherwise valid, a court may deem the person to lack the mental capacity to have made a will at the time it was executed. The maker needs to understand what property they own and who their family members are, as well as the reason for executing the will and the overall scheme for dispensing the assets. Having mental illness or some other affliction does not bar the will from validity, as long as those requirements are met.

Two other major issues with wills include interested witnesses and leaving family members out of the will. Generally, two witnesses are required to be present when the will is executed. If one or both of these witnesses are also benefiting from the will, the validity of the will may be challenged. This challenge could come from a family member that is left out of the will. If the testator wants to disinherit someone, there needs to be clear language indicating this, or else this could also be a basis for challenging the will.

Avoiding a will contest by ensuring that the language and terms of the will are valid may require the services of an attorney. The attorney may be able to walk a client through the entire estate planning process and draft the necessary documents, including a will and any trust documents required.

Source: The Motley Fool, "3 Reasons Your Will Won't Hold Up in Court", Dan Caplinger, June 28, 2014

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