Creating a will ensures that all your belongings and assets are distributed as you wish them to be after death. A general durable power of attorney or a health care power of attorney gives the designated agents the authority to act on your behalf if you are unable to. However, if any of those documents are not executed correctly, they can be deemed invalid or leave room for disputes. That is why it is important to hire an attorney and avoid the below mentioned mistakes.
- Not following state laws on witnesses or notary requirements.
Each state has its own set of laws that dictate how documents need to be signed. Ohio requires wills to be signed in the presence of two disinterested witnesses. Power of attorney documents need to be notarized to be valid.
- Not destroying previously created documents.
If you previously created a will or a power of attorney and did not destroy it after creating a new one, it is possible for family to find the previously created document, which could have the wrong beneficiaries, executors, or agents named. Therefore, all documents should be immediately destroyed after executing their replacement.
- Insufficient mental capacity.
Any estate planning documents can be challenged if there is a belief that they were executed when the person executing them did not have the mental capacity to do so. An attorney can help in checking and ensuring that the creator can pass a basic competency test. The test includes understanding things like the property individual owns, who their relatives are, their relationship to the beneficiaries or agents listed, and what the will says and means. People with mental impairments, including dementia can still create a valid will if they can pass the test. Working with an attorney can help in providing the necessary documentation to exclude any doubts as to one’s competency, such as a physician’s report or a video of the individual.
- Fraud or Undue Influence.
If court finds that the document was signed due to fraud or undue influence, it will deem it invalid. If creator of the document plans on making will distributions or name an agent, that he or she knows the family might not accept, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help. It is possible to include a no contest clause in the will. This means that anyone who contests it, and losses, cannot inherit from the will.
It is important to ensure that estate planning documents are executed correctly to prevent from unwanted individuals to have control over one’s assets, or a will from going into intestacy and passing to beneficiaries according to state law.
To ensure that your estate planning is updated and created effectively, please call/text 216-586-4246 to schedule an appointment.