When provisions in a will get scrutiny and declared invalid

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Every detail of your will received enough scrutiny that you believe that this document is infallible. Although the process took a great amount of planning and decision-making, you now rest easy. Your estate plan is in place, providing you and your beneficiaries a tremendous amount of peace of mind. Its validity cannot be questioned.

Really? Are you certain about that? You cannot be too sure. Having a will does not necessarily make it legal. With the presence of fraud in a will’s provisions, a court can poke holes in this document and declare it invalid. Provisions tied to fraud are invalid, thus negating the validity of the entire will itself. It is a domino effect, toppling what you thought was a carefully crafted document.

Fraud and no-contest clauses

Provisions provide the important framework of a will. The list of them includes naming your beneficiaries, selecting an executor, revoking previous wills along with paying outstanding debt and taxes.

However, when hints of suspicion arise in certain provisions, they may be invalidated along with the will. Here are some situations:

  • Fraud based on undue influence. This is despicable when another individual such as an adult child or relative takes advantage of the creator of the will. That person may have persuaded a parent to leave the money to him or her instead of other beneficiaries. Deception and trickery like this invalidate a will.
  • Implementing provisions when the will creator is not of sound mind. Taking advantage of a vulnerable adult who lacks the mental capacity is another sure way to validate a will.
  • When a no-contest or forfeiture clause gets a second look. This provision notes that if anyone contests the will, that person forfeits all assets he or she would have received. But, sometimes, the court establishes that this beneficiary likely had reasonable cause to contest the will. As a result, the no-contest clause becomes invalid.

Provisions remain an essential part of a will. However, if these provisions do not hold up in the probate process, that document likely is invalid.