Mustering the courage to confront one’s own mortality and engage in estate planning is no small thing. However, merely because some words are put on paper delineating how assets are to be divided upon an individual’s death does not mean that its provisions will hold up in a court of law. Although most of us hope that these matters can be resolved without heated disputes, the truth is that this area of the law can see some of the nastiest litigation. To avoid it, Arizonans need to do everything in their power to ensure that their estate plan is as legally sound as possible.
One of the first ways to do this is to recognize common pitfalls, especially as they relate to wills. Wills can be contested in a number of ways. First, a will and its provisions may be deemed invalid if someone proves that the will’s creator lacked testamentary capacity. In other words, if it can be shown that the individual didn’t understand the true nature of the will, including the value of the property involved and how it was to be dispersed, then the will cannot be legally enforceable.
A will may also be found invalid if it was executed under fraud or duress. Here, evidence that shows that the will’s creator was under pressure, manipulated, or acted under misrepresentations may be enough to destroy a will. Other common missteps in will creation are failing to take into account updated wills and their interaction with previously created wills, as well as lack of formalities indicating who the will pertains to and to whom property must be left.
Preventing estate litigation is crucial in the estate planning process. After all, the entire process is about how to leave one’s beneficiaries in the best position possible after one’s death. Although it may seem relatively easy, failing to be thorough and legally secure in the creation of important estate planning vehicles can result in unwanted consequences. Therefore, those who want to learn more about how to create a strong and legally competent estate plan should discuss the matter with an experienced attorney of their choosing.