The reading of the will tends to be a dramatic event in movies and books, typically ending in an unpleasant surprise for the family. Despite the common dramatization, these scenarios do happen in real life, leading loved ones to contest the will.
However, the signs that a will may be invalid often are not as obvious as their portrayals in media. These are some of the red flags you may come across to help you determine if your parent's will is valid.
When a major event occurs in life, such as a remarriage or the diagnosis of a terminal illness, it is natural for someone to review his or her will and make changes relevant to the circumstances. However, if your parent made changes very close to the time of passing, it may be a sign that someone used undue influence to alter the will at the last minute in a favorable manner to him or her and/or unfavorable to the rightful heirs. The person may be in the family or outside, such as a caregiver. This situation is more likely to happen with a senior who is mentally and/or emotionally vulnerable.
Are there beneficiaries, including charities, that you have never heard of? Unless you had a distant relationship with your parent, or your parent was a very private person, you should be aware of the people and institutions your mother or father leaves assets to. When in doubt, you can investigate the relationship your parent had with the person or organization to ensure its genuineness.
Even if your parent had the best of intentions, the will must meet certain legal requirements to be valid. In Nevada, these include the following:
- The will must be in writing or meet standards for electronic or holographic forms. Verbal wills are not an option.
- It must state the date, purpose of the document and terms.
- The person, along with two witnesses, must sign it.
If any of these requirements are missing, the will may be invalid, meaning that you can contest it.