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How the court decides if a will is valid

Losing a loved one is hard. It is particularly difficult when you suspect his or her wishes are not being respected. This happens if your loved one's will seems to have been tampered with.

However, proving your loved one's will is invalid can be difficult. Here are four reasons a court may decide a will is not legally binding. 

Will contains crossed out language

A valid will must be written. Most wills are written on a computer and then printed off. Your loved one may also have used a fill-in-the-blank style will that he or she downloaded from the internet. This style of will can be perfectly legal. However, if someone crossed out portions of the language used in the will, it can be incredibly difficult to determine who made these changes. A court will likely not enforce these crossed out passages.

Will is missing signatures

A will must also be signed and dated by the creator. Typically, person who made the will initials or signs each page as well. The law does not require this, but the will must be signed to be valid. If signatures are missing, the court will likely declare it invalid.

Will was not witnessed, or the witnesses are suspect

For a will to be legally binding, two witnesses must be present at the signing. The witnesses must be over the age of 18. Some states prohibit will beneficiaries from being the witnesses. In Minnesota, the law suggests the will maker have witnesses who do not have an interest in the will, but it is not legally required. A will that is not signed in front of two witnesses is invalid, and a court will not uphold it.

If you think the witnesses influenced your loved one, you may also have a valid argument against the legality of the will. You must gather evidence against those you suspect unfairly influenced your loved one.

Your loved one was not mentally sound

A person must be of sound mind for a will to be valid. You may be able to question the will if your loved one lacked the mental capacity to sign off on it. Perhaps he or she was suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's disease or some other mental condition. If you present the court with evidence supporting this claim, the court may declare the will is not legally binding.

After the loss of a loved one, you want to ensure his or her affairs are settled as he or she wanted. If your loved one's will seems suspicious, you do have a right to have it examined to determine whether it truly represents how he or she wanted the estate distributed.

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Mason & Helmers
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