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Why Would a Court Refuse to Honor a Will?

Why Would a Court Refuse to Honor a Will?

May 4, 2020

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Planning for a stable and secure future is the goal of any estate plan.  Estate plans use a variety of different tools to make sure you manage your assets appropriately to reach your Judgegoals.  A last will and testament is the cornerstone of almost every estate plan.  With a will, you can dictate how your assets will be distributed following your death.  Like any legal document, a will has very particular requirements to make sure it is valid and enforceable.  There are a variety of reasons, however, that a court may decline to honor your will.

One reason that a court may not act pursuant to your will is if it is shown that you lacked testamentary capacity at the time you signed the will.  Testamentary capacity means that you had the mental capability of appreciated the nature and contents of the document you are signing.  If, for example, you had an illness that impacted your decision making ability at the time you sign your last will and testament, the court could rule that you did not have the proper capacity to execute your will.  If that is the case, the court will rule that your will is invalid and your assets will pass according to the laws of intestacy.

Another reason why the court may refuse to honor your will is if part or all of the provisions you have included are not permitted under law.  One of the most common examples of this is when a parent names a preferred guardian for a minor child in his or her will, but the other biological parent is still alive.  You cannot use a will to get around the fact that a biological parent has very specific and strong rights.  Unless the surviving biological parent is unfit to raise the child, the court will ignore any guardian designation you make in your will, and the child will go to reside with the surviving parent.

Finally, a court may refuse to honor your will if it does not conform to the requirements of Minnesota probate law.  Minnesota, like other states, has particular requirements for what makes a valid will.  If you draft a will while you lived in California but then you move to Minnesota, your Californian will may not meet the requirements in Minnesota for a valid will.  This is just one of many reasons that it is important to keep your will updated.

Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and let us help you.  We have extensive experience helping our clients to draft tailor-made and enforceable wills.


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