A last will can be invalidated for many reasons. Some common reasons include:
Not signed or signed in the wrong place.
Generally, wills must be signed and signed properly to be valid and admitted to probate. In some states, a will may still be admitted if it meets the harmless error rule – there is “clear and convincing evidence that the decedent intended the document” as their last will. In other states, the beneficiaries are out of luck.
Not signed in the presence of witnesses.
Some states require that the will-maker sign his or her will in-front of the witnesses. In others, there is no requirement to be in the same room.
Two or more witnesses did not sign the will with the will-maker present.
The number of witnesses required to sign a will varies by state. Most states require at least two, others require three. In some states the witnesses must sign in front of the will-maker. Other states like New York require witnesses to sign within 30 days of observing the will-maker sign.
Witnesses do not meet requirements
In most states a witness must be over the age of 18. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, in Texas, witnesses must be over the age of 14.
Many states require that witnesses be disinterested, meaning that they will not inherit anything under your will. Other states have laws that prevent the executor of your will from being a witness.
Not including provisions required under state law.
Each state has its own laws about what should be included in a will. An attorney licensed to practice in your state will ensure that all state legal requirements are met.
As a general matter, your will should include:
- A clear description of who gets what
- A statement that this your last will and testament
- The name of the persons responsible for probating your will, called the executor
A licensed attorney will review your will to ensure that all conditions have been met and applicable laws followed.