Legal Issues Related to a Deathbed Will

A deathbed Will is a Will Last Will & Testament that is created and executed when the testator (the person distributing his/her property) is facing imminent death. There are several legal issues relating to a deathbed Will which can undermine the purpose of the Will. As a result, it makes sense not to wait until the last moments to declare your final wishes.

Basic Considerations

Circumstances may not allow the testator to use a printer for declaring his or her Will. Therefore, a handwrittenWill, also known as a holographic Will, is acceptable in some jurisdictions, including New York. However, to make a holographic Will legal, certain evidence has to be produced before the court. A report from a handwriting expert or signature match analysis can serve the purpose. Also, the Will should reflect that the testator was intending to declare the Will to be his or her Last Will and Testament. This is made possible by including statements such as, “I make this as my last Will and Testament” or “This is my last will.” Also, the Will should specifically contain information about property distribution among intended beneficiaries.

Legal Challenges to Deathbed Will

Since a deathbed Will is not always accepted as a valid legal instrument, beneficiaries can challenge the terms of the Will. Most often these Wills are challenged on the basis that the testator lacked mental capacity (due to illness or other issue) to make sound judgments. Such challenges usually lead to complicated legal cases which can continue for several months or even years.

A deathbed Will typically creates a catch-22 situation. Consult an expert estate planning lawyer to make sure that the Last Will & Testament follows laws applicable to the jurisdiction. This will also help to avoid any potential will contest or litigation after the death of the testator.

If you have any questions, please contact our office today.