What makes a will invalid? 3 common pitfalls

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2021 | wills and trusts

Creating a will allows you to decide what will happen to your assets and belongings when you pass on. The document rightfully serves as your last instructions to your loved ones. As such, you want to be certain that it will be recognized and your final wishes will be followed.

However, not all wills are as bulletproof as their creators would wish. It is important that you know the common reasons why your will may be deemed invalid. This way, you will have peace of mind knowing your final wishes are safe, secure and will be carried out as you intended. 

What are some common reasons a will can be invalidated?

There are actually numerous possible reasons for finding fault with a will, but here are three of the biggest:

  1. The will’s format is invalid. New York law allows for handwritten wills, for example, but they have to be witnessed appropriately. 
  2. The will is contradictory or vague. In general, do-it-yourself wills are a bad idea because they often end up with contradictory clauses or vague instructions. When that happens, the court may simply invalidate the whole thing.
  3. There are questions about the testator’s state of mind. A will can be challenged if the heirs or potential heirs believe that the testator lacked the mental capacity to clearly direct their wishes. That could be due to illness (like dementia) or due to the undue influence of another. 

A will is a final legal document that ensures your legacy is preserved and your wishes honored with respect to the distribution of your assets upon passing. However, to achieve its intended purpose a will must be valid. Avoiding these pitfalls will ensure that you create a valid will that will stand the test of time. 

FindLaw Network