Berman & Asbel, LLP

How a will could be invalidated

Making a will can be a great way to ensure that money and other assets are distributed to those that the creator of the will wants to receive them. However, it is possible to have a will invalidated in a Pennsylvania court for a variety of reasons. There are three key factors which could serve to undermine the document.

The first reason is that there were no unbiased witnesses to the signing of the will. Generally, those who witness the signing should have no interest in whether or not it is done or when it is done. This is because a witness may have to testify that the person placing his or her signature on the document did so freely and while mentally capable of doing so. Accordingly, the witnesses should not also be named beneficiaries.

Not including family members could potentially invalidate a will because the law considers all such heirs equally. By mentioning an heir, it is then possible to state that the person is being left out of the will intentionally while taking away any claims of bias or duress when signing the will by that heir. Finally, a will could be ruled invalid if it is found that a will is signed by someone who was not mentally capable of doing so.

Good estate planning can be undermined if it is not written or signed according to the law. By consulting with an estate planning attorney, it may be easier to create a document that complies with the law, thereby reducing the chance that family members or others will be able to successfully challenge the will in probate court.

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

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