A will is a legal document that speaks for you when you pass on. Through your will, you can articulate your wishes with respect to how you want your assets to be distributed. Among other functions, you can also identify a guardian for your young kids should you die or become incapacitated before they become adults.
However, your wishes as outlined in your will can only be honored when your will is valid. Here are common pitfalls that can result in the invalidation of your California will.
Legally, fraud refers to any illegal and deceptive practice. As far as estate planning is concerned, a will is deemed fraudulent when it intentionally misrepresents the truth thus resulting in a loss to the designated beneficiaries. Fraud can happen during the execution or administration of the will.
Examples of a will fraud may include:
- Alteration of the testator’s or witness’s signatures
- A will that is not duly signed in the presence of the witnesses
- When the testator is tricked into signing the will document without understanding the implications
There are multiple ways in which a will can be declared fraudulent. And it is upon the individual contesting the will to prove their claims of fraud.
Lack of testamentary capacity
For a will to be deemed valid, the testator must be at least 18 years and be of sound mind at the time of executing the will document. This is known as the testamentary capacity. To have the testamentary capacity to execute a will, the testator must demonstrate the following:
- Identify the assets that they are going to subject to distribution through the will
- Understand the implications of distributing assets to their beneficiaries
- Identify the people or entities to whom they want to distribute assets
A will is an important estate planning document. Done right, a will can give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be respected and honored when you are no longer around.