Things that can invalidate a will

On Behalf of | Jul 5, 2023 | Will and Trust Contests

California residents concerned about estate planning will often create a will. The will outlines how their estate gets handled when they die. However, merely going through the trouble of creating a will does not guarantee that it will hold up later in court.

An unsigned will

For a will to be valid, the will-maker must sign the completed will. If the person never signs the will, it’s not a legally binding contract. It’s important to note that courts in California have a broad view of what can be deemed a signature. For example, if someone intends for a simple “X” to serve as their signature, it can be considered as such. This can happen, for example, in cases of individuals with medical conditions that make it impossible for them to hold or maneuver a pen.

Missing witness signature

Many will and trust contests happen because the will needs the signature of two appropriate witnesses. Witnesses need to be present when the will is signed, or they must testify to the fact that the individual who created the will acknowledged that they signed the will. The witnesses must also understand what they are signing and that it is a will.

People might be deemed unqualified to serve as witnesses if they lack the mental capacity to understand what they are witnessing in signing. Beneficiaries of the will also cannot be witnesses.

Tricked into signing the will

If the will-maker was tricked into signing the will, for example, if they thought they were signing a different document, this might be considered fraud. If someone can prove fraud in California, the will may be deemed invalid. This can also happen if the individual who created the will was not of sound mind when they either created the will or adjusted it.

Ensuring that a will is valid and properly prepared can be time-consuming. However, having a properly created and signed will can make handling an estate easier after the individual dies.