When Can a Will Be Declared Invalid?
There are some circumstances in which a person might challenge the validity of a will. As you prepare your will, it is important for you to create it in such a way that it avoids any of these potential pitfalls so it withstands any potential challenges it might face.
- Undue influence: If there is any proof the testator was unduly influenced by another person in their decisions, the will can be invalidated.
- Fraud: If the will was fraudulently obtained, it can be invalidated.
- Outdated copy: Any time a person creates a new will, it automatically invalidates all previous wills. So if a new copy of a will is found, that is the will that must be used for the estate, even if the court and heirs have already been following a previous edition of the will. The newest version usually takes precedence.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: To have “testamentary capacity,” the person creating the will must be over the age of 18 years and of sound mind. A person lacks testamentary capacity if they are underage, were under the influence of alcohol or other substances at the time of signing the will, or suffers from a severely degraded mental state due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. Note that a simple diagnosis of an illness like dementia is not enough to prove lack of testamentary capacity—there are stages of dementia, and people who suffer from dementia can still have moments of lucidity. If the person is still capable of knowing the natural objects of his bounty and understanding the document and its purpose, they likely have testamentary capacity.
- Improper execution: There are certain rules for how wills must be executed to be valid. They must be signed by witnesses and may be required to be notarized. They must also contain certain provisions and content.
For more information about when a will could potentially be considered invalid, contact a trusted Tampa estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.