Provisions within a will represent the foundation of this legal document in estate planning. Among the key provisions include naming an executor; naming guardians for minor children; the disposing of assets to beneficiaries; the revocation of previously created wills; directives related to paying outstanding debts and taxes; and the disinheritance of relatives.
Every one of these provisions gets scrutiny during the probate process. And when any of these provisions prove to be questionable, this puts the entire will in doubt as well. For example, a provision with origins in fraud makes that provision invalid. Ultimately, such a detail more than likely makes the will invalid, too.
The scent of fraud
Here are examples as to when a court invalidates will provisions:
- Any scent of fraud, including undue influence in which a person is persuaded or threatened into making certain decisions or trickery into signing documents that actually relate to an estate plan.
- The inclusion of provisions made when the testator was not of sound mind, lacking the mental capacity to understand the details. The result: an invalidated will.
- Situations in which the no-contest clause comes under legal question. Also known as the forfeiture or terrorem clause, this provision asserts that when a beneficiary contests the will, that person forfeits any asset they would have received. But, in some cases, the no-contest clause may be invalid if a beneficiary provides a reasonable cause to contest the document.
When creating a will, you want to include ironclad and untainted provisions. This will ensure your estate plan passes legal muster, while preventing any potential disputes.