Setting aside time to draft a will is one of the most responsible steps you can ever take. Done right, a will allows you to articulate your wishes with respect to the distribution of your assets when you die. In the absence of one, the government will make this decision for you. And this, understandably, might not sit well with you.
While challenging a will is relatively difficult, it still happens. And when someone successfully disputes your will, the outcome might significantly derail your legacy. How can you know if someone might challenge your will?
If you’ve improperly executed your will
Per Virginia wills laws, you must satisfy the following requirements when creating a will:
- You must be 18 or older at the time of signing the document
- The will must be witnessed by at least two non-interested parties
- The will must be in writing
A will that does not satisfy these basic legal requirements can be disputed more easily than one that is legally sound.
When there was undue influence
Someone cannot trick, coerce or pressure you into writing or updating your will. If this happens, the resulting will may be invalidated. An example of a situation where undue influence can be raised is when an elderly person at a nursing home suddenly updates their will to disinherit someone or allocate a significant portion of their estate to a new partner or a caregiver.
When you fail to update your will after a change in law
Federal and state laws change from time to time. When there is a change in law, it is crucial that you update your will as well as other estate planning documents to comply with the law. If you do not, and your will becomes obsolete, it might not be honored by the probate court.
A will is a crucial estate planning document. Seeking legal guidance and learning more about Virginia wills laws can help you avoid missteps that could lead to the invalidation of your will.