Creating a will is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones. If you’ve experienced any anxieties over your family’s future without you, then taking the time to draw up this document represents the only way for you to get peace of mind – and to trust that, even after your death, things will transpire as you want them to.
Still, wills are tricky documents. They need to adhere to strict requirements in order to offer the support and guidance you want them to – and, for that, it is imperative you work with an experienced solicitor.
While ‘DIY wills’ have gained popularity in recent years, they can easily leave the door open for others to contest your will – or for your loved ones to have no other option but to contest the outcome themselves – and, in either instance, start down a long and difficult road for your family. To read more about the specifics of contesting a will, click here, or keep reading to find out about the most common traps writers can fall into if they do not find the right legal support.
Want of Due Execution
While the content of the will is what matters most to your loved ones, the standard to which the will itself is written matters just as much to its validity.
Want of Due Execution refers to instances where the required legal formalities have been overlooked or missed.
For instance, it is all too common for issues to occur during the signing of the will. The testator’s signature (your signature) needs to be made in the presence of two or more witnesses, both of whom need to attest and acknowledge the signature in the presence of the testator.
It’s easy to overlook the importance of this, but it is absolutely fundamental to the legal validity of the document.
Want of Knowledge and Approval
Even when the will has been properly signed, there can still be reasons to cast doubt upon its soundness.
It might be possible to prove that the testator was not cognisant of what was in the will at the time of signing – in which case, the will could be disputed for Want of Knowledge and Approval. As you can imagine, this can be incredibly complicated to prove and can lead to lengthy legal disputes.
Unfortunately, it can be the case that the testator has been coerced or manipulated into writing a will against their wishes. Again, this is incredibly difficult to prove and, while it is sometimes argued, it very rarely proves to be successful.
This refers to an instance of one individual denigrating the character of another, in order to limit that person’s inheritance, or remove them from the will entirely.
If the harmed party would otherwise have expected to benefit from the will, then they may be able to dispute the will, and inherit what they would have stood to inherit had the testator not been influenced by another prior to their death.
Fraud or Forgery
This one is a little more self-explanatory and refers to instances where the will is thought to be a forgery.
Accusations along these lines can, understandably, cause irreparable rifts and familial estrangements – but, in cases when one person suspects another of deception, misrepresentation, or dishonesty for personal gain, it may represent their only option for inheriting what is rightfully theirs.
Lack of testamentary capacity
A very difficult scenario, and one that should encourage anyone considering writing a will to do so sooner rather than later.
Testamentary Capacity is, as the name suggests, a person’s cognitive ability to create a will and make those important decisions for themselves. Testamentary Capacity can be lost due to mental impairment or incapacity and can be devastating for families when no will has been written ahead of time.
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