A will is a legal document that speaks for you after your passing. It communicates how you wish to have your property distributed. It also names a guardian for your children if you pass on before they become adults. You can also use your will to leave specific instructions concerning your funeral.
Granted its significance, a will is an important estate planning document. As such, it is important that your will is valid at the time of its creation. Here are common pitfalls that can render your will invalid in Kentucky.
Will execution requirements vary from state to state. In Kentucky, the testator must sign their will in the presence of two witnesses for it to be valid. While this requirement may be relaxed if the will is handwritten, it is important that you meet it to avoid contestation.
Lack of testamentary capacity
Anyone above 18 is legally presumed to understand what a will is. Most often at the end of life, people are not always in their best state of mind. Your will can be invalidated if the court establishes that you signed it while suffering from a mental condition that impairs your judgment such as dementia. Also, the court may invalidate your will if you signed it while intoxicated.
Fraud or undue influence
The court will invalidate a will that was executed under coercion or fraudulently. If the will was presented to the testator for signing as if it were just any other document, like a business contract, the court may rule that such will was fraudulently prepared and will thus invalidate it. A will can also be invalidated if it is deemed fraudulent. For instance, if the person providing end-of-life care to the testator threatens to terminate the care unless the testator agrees to modify the will, that modification will be considered a product of an undue influence. In that case, the will be invalidated.
When you create a will as part of your estate planning process, you do so hoping your last wishes will be honored. However, your best intentions could be naught if the court establishes that your will is invalid. Ensuring that your will is fault-free will ensure your final instructions are honored.