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Protecting the provisions in a will and testament

Putting final wishes and bequests in writing through the form of an official will is one of the best ways to ensure that a New York resident's estate is properly dsitributed. However, there are many reasons a court will invalidate a will after death. There are common mistakes that people make which allow heirs to contest the will and force the courts to make changes that the deceased may not have wanted.

The first step to protecting assets in an estate is to choose unbiased witnesses. Someone with another agenda may be called upon later to claim that the deceased was not of sound mind at the time the will was signed. It makes it easier for heirs and people who are unhappy with the distribution of assets to call the validity into question and challenge how the estate is handled.

Some people will disinherit certain family members for one reason or another. This is well within the rights of an individual, but the courts normally presume that family members will be treated equally. If one person is not receiving an equal amount or is being excluded entirely, the reasons for that should be included in the documentation. It is also wise to at least acknowledge that these individuals exist by specifically stating that there are no provisions for them in the will. Taking these steps makes the will more difficult to contest later.

When people wait until they are dealing with an illness before creating a will, heirs may be able to argue that they did not have the mental capacity to sign such a document. Courts expect that the individual will understand what property he or she owns, who their potential heirs are, the fact that the personal property will be turned over to those selected as beneficiaries and the overall plan for estate distribution.

Source: The Motley Fool, "3 Reasons Your Will Won't Hold Up in Court", Dan Caplinger, June 28, 2014

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