Is Your Will Valid?

Having a valid Will is an important aspect of ensuring your estate plan does what it’s supposed to do. That means you need to ensure your Will is updated on a regular basis and has been reviewed by your estate planning attorney to make sure it still complies with state laws.

There are some circumstances that can affect the validity of a Will, including:

  • Changes in Family Status – If there has been a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child, or if beneficiary has died, this affects how the assets are distributed and the Will should be modified accordingly.
  • Illegal Terms – In estate planning, “illegal” doesn’t necessarily mean criminal. If there are terms in the Will that requires that you dispose of property that is held by someone else for example, this won’t be allowed by the probate court. You also cannot give assets to a named beneficiary if there is another legal document naming someone else as beneficiary to those assets. A Will also cannot name a beneficiary to property that is held in a trust, and is ineffective in passing property owned in joint tenancy when one tenant passes away.

Can the Will be Challenged?

Wills that appear completely legal and binding can still be challenged. This could happen if there is any question as to the Will makers mental capacity at the time they signed the Will, such as if they were suffering from mental illness, Alzheimer’s, etc.

For a Will to be legal it must be in writing, as well as signed and dated. In Colorado, there must also be two witness signatures and a notary. A Will can be generated by computer as long as all of the legal criteria are met. A holographic Will, or handwritten Will, is valid in Colorado only if all of the important parts are in your own handwriting and it has a self-proving affidavit. If the will seems to be added to, such as some of it being handwritten, and some computer generated pages, this may cause some legal problems and should be remedied now.

If the Will could have any of these issues, the best course of action would be to consult with an estate-planning attorney to ensure your loved ones don’t experience probate problems after you’re gone.

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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