It may be a shock to discover after a loved one’s passing that their Last Will and Testament contains misinformation. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the important thing to realize is that significant errors often cannot be corrected after the Will-maker has died. Think about it—how would you prove that something in the Will is a mistake and not the decedent’s actual wishes? For example, if your mother leaves 30 acres of land to you, but the parcel in question is actually 300 acres, how can you prove that it was just a typo? You might need to work with a Probate attorney.
How Mistakes in Wills Happen
Misinformation ends up in Wills for a few reasons. If someone took the do-it-yourself approach with a free internet download, there would be no guarantee that the information they inserted in the blanks is accurate. If full legal names are not provided, descriptions of property are inaccurate, or bank accounts are not properly listed, this can create all kinds of problems at Probate. Wills that have not been updated for many years also often contain inaccurate information. The Will-maker may no longer own items listed in the Will, or potential heirs might have died or fallen out of favor. In some situations, the Will-maker included misinformation without realizing it.
What Can Be Done to Correct Mistakes
Some minor errors, such as misspelled names or other clerical errors, probably won’t matter. However, mistakes of fact—such as the value of an estate, the existence of a valuable item, or a misunderstanding of legal terms—will likely not be overturned by a judge. If you are certain that the Will does not reflect your loved one’s actual intentions because there are mistakes of fact, you will probably have to take the route of contesting the Will. If it can be proven that your loved one made the mistakes because they were not of sound mind or were given false information by another party, you could be successful in overturning the Will. If you believe that your loved one signed the Will without knowing what was in it, an attorney might be able to help you prove it and invalidate the Will.
Avoid Mistakes to Begin With!
When you work with an Estate Planning attorney to draft your Last Will and Testament, you can be sure that these kinds of mistakes will be avoided. Once the Will is drafted, your attorney should touch base with you every few years to make necessary updates. If you are unsure about the state of a loved one’s Will, it’s a good idea to ask them if you can read it and to have an attorney review the Will while the loved one is still alive. This could be a difficult subject to broach, but it could prevent major problems down the road. Contact Ross & Shoalmire with any questions you have about Wills in Texas and Arkansas.