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What can cause a will to be invalidated?

Those who sit down and draft wills often do so because they want to dictate what happens with their assets once they pass on instead of letting Arizona's intestate succession laws do that for them. Wills, however, are not always as airtight as they may seem. Certain circumstances must be met for a will to be considered valid.

In most jurisdictions, the individual making the will is required to be at least 18 years old, to have been enlisted in the U.S. military or to have previously been married. That person must be deemed to have 'testamentary capacity,' or soundness of mind, as well.

It's the responsibility of the person taking "testamentary capacity" at the time the will is signed to determine whether the individual fully understands the implications of placing their signature on the document. They must verify that the testator fully understands that in signing the will their assets will be turned over to others per their wishes.

The testator must also understand that any assets that they wish to turn over to family or friends must be listed. Any that aren't will typically be handled in accordance with state intestate succession laws. At the time of signing, it's important that the testator be advised that the choices regarding property division made in the will are revocable as well.

Many jurisdictions require two persons, unaffiliated, unaffected, or "disinterested" with the process to witness the execution of a person's last will and testament. These parties should not be those that stand to benefit from the signing of the will.

It's believed that having these witnesses present provides an additional level of clarity that an individual was fully coherent and not coerced when they signed the document. If it's suspected that the testator was forced to sign the document against their will, then there's a strong likelihood that a judge will invalidate it.

If you're concerned about the validity of your friend or family member's will, an Arizona estate administration or probate attorney can advise you of legal options available to you should your findings prove accurate.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a 'valid will'?," accessed Nov. 01, 2017

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