How to Make Sure Your Intent is Carried Out
When we draft a will, our Dothan attorneys are forever conscious of the fact that the document might one day come before a court, so we try to make sure that the language is as clear and unambiguous as possible in expressing the testator’s wishes of our clients. Also, our Dothan attorneys make sure that every formal requirement is met, such that the court will be sure to accept the will for probate. Our probate attorneys also try to make sure that the testator is capable of making a will and that no undue influence exists – by documenting such evidence, we can prevent future will contests.
In Alabama, a will must be a signed writing with attestation by 2 witnesses in order to be effective. “Attestation” just means that each witness either saw the testator sign the will or had the signature acknowledged to them before signing the document. If any of these formalities are not met, the court can throw out the will – the assets of the decedent will be distributed through the state intestate system. To ensure this sort of wrench is not thrown into the gears of your estate plans, contact an experience probate attorney for help.
In drafting wills and other instruments, lawyers must be on the lookout for mental incapacity, fraud, or undue influence. These are also reasons a court may throw out a will, and inevitably lead to will contests. The basic premise of will drafting is to make sure that the testator’s intent is carried out; thus, will contests are to be avoided by careful drafting. However, if a court does find that a testator lacked mental capacity at the time of drafting, the entire will may be voided. Mental capacity is a requirement that testators understand the nature and extent of his property, as well as who their heirs are and what is to happen to their property. Undue influence is another ground for will contests. Undue influence means that the testator was coerced into adding someone as a beneficiary. In these cases, the court may throw out the entire will, or simply disregard any portions of the will affected by the undue influence.
Effective will drafting requires good communication with the testator, expert attention to detail, and mastery of applicable law. Houston County probate attorneys Parkman White, LLP have years of experience with drafting wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and advance directives. If you live in the Dothan area, or you live in Cottonwood, Rehobeth, Columbia, Daleville, or other areas in Southeast Alabama, give our Dothan will drafting attorneys a call to assist you with your will drafting needs. Call us today at 334-792-1900, or email us for a consultation and let us put our experience to work for you.