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Work with experienced attorney to ensure your will is enforceable, P.2

Previously, we began looking at the issue of ensuring the enforceability of a last will and testament. As we noted, two important areas to look out for are ensuring the document is properly executed and that it is not tainted by fraud, duress, mistake or undue influence.

With regard to proper execution, one step a testator can take to reinforce the sound mind requirement is to obtain a doctor’s assessment of his or her mental condition at the time of the signing. This can lend credence to the document’s validity if it comes under challenge due to the charge that the testator was not aware of what he or she was signing. 

No contest clauses, which disinherit those who challenge the will, are sometimes used as a tool to prevent will contests, but these are not necessarily effective, especially for those who are not included in the will. In addition, such provisions are unenforceable in Florida.

One area where challenges can sometimes crop up for a will is when a will is altered. Too often, alterations or revocations of a will are done hastily or without coordination of previously executed documents. State law is clear about the requirement for revoking a will in writing or in action, as well as how to properly alter tangible personal property lists. The existence of multiple documents can create significant confusion in probate court, and so it is important to be clear about what is being done in such matters.

Another tip for bolstering the enforceability of a will is to reinforce it verbally or in other writings outside the will itself. The only caution here would be to ensure that the will should be updated as one’s wishes change. Attempting to verbally reinforce a will can create confusion if what is expressed verbally is not the same as what is in the will.  

Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure not only the proper execution of a will, as well as the revocation of a will, but can also go a long way toward preventing later allegations of fraud, duress, mistake and undue influence. 

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