People in Pennsylvania who are creating an estate plan might wonder what circumstances could lead to challenges to their wills. Someone being able to successfully challenge a will is an unusual occurrence. When it happens, it is usually done by a spouse on the grounds that either the person who made the will was unduly influenced by someone or did not have testamentary capacity.
It is presumed that anyone who is 18 years of age or older has testamentary capacity unless he or she is suffering from dementia, senility, insanity or are otherwise incapable of understanding the consequences of the will. This includes being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When creating a will, an individual must understand the extent of his or her property and how much it’s worth, who the beneficiaries are, what a will means and how the property is distributed.
People could also be manipulated into preparing their wills a certain way, which could lead to a challenge. If a newer will is found, the previous one might be declared invalid. Wills must also be prepared in accordance with state law. In Pennsylvania, this includes having witnesses. If a person passes away in a different state, as long as the person is still a Pennsylvania resident, the will is valid if it follows state law.
While it is possible to create a do-it-yourself will, working with an attorney might ensure that the will meets the necessary legal standards. This might be especially important if there are any complexities concerning the estate. A lawyer might also introduce estate planning provisions that a person is unaware of such as a special needs trust to care for loved ones with disabilities. Talking to loved ones about a will can be another good way for a person to make sure that the intent of his or her will is understood.