“Deathbed wills” are wills that are created and executed when the testator is already facing imminent death. Such wills may sometimes be drafted in a rushed and hasty manner, especially where the testator’s health is in very poor condition. However, if they meet all the requirements for a valid will (such as signed, witnessed, etc.), they can still be considered legally enforceable.
On the other hand, wills that are created in a rushed manner can often contain many different errors or oversights. For example, the testator may fail to mention key persons who play important roles in the distribution/reception of the estate property. Thus, when creating a “deathbed will”, it is generally advisable that non-interested, experienced lawyer be present to help mediate the person’s intentions regarding the distribution of their property.
What Are Some Other Concerns Regarding Deathbed Wills?
There are several concerns associated with deathbed wills. These include:
- Undue influence: It sometimes happens that distant relatives or other person may approach the testator and attempt to influence them to create a will in their favor
- Mental competency: The testator’s ability to formulate sound legal decisions may sometimes be compromised, especially if they are under medication, mentally incompetent, or are seriously ill
- Fraud: A common form of fraud is for a non-relative to visit a nursing home or care home and attempt to have the testator sign a fraudulent will or trust document. Such fraud schemes usually involve some form of undue influence
Thus, persons should be careful when dealing with wills in an emergency situation. They should be carefully reviewed and executed properly, according to local and state rules. This is another reason why it’s a good idea to begin thinking about your will early on life, before such circumstances occur.
Can a Deathbed Will Be Challenged?
Deathbed wills, like other types of wills, can sometimes be challenged. For instance, if any of the factors listed above (such as fraud, mental competency, or undue influence) are present, the will could be challenged in court. This may require the admission of other documents and evidence in support of the will challenge.
In most cases, the advice and guidance of an attorney is needed to challenge a will. This is because the laws governing wills and trusts can be very different from state to state. Also, each will is unique, and therefore challenging a will may be different on a case-by-case basis.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Deathbed Will?
If you or a loved one need to draft, edit, review, or remake a will document, it’s in your best interest to work closely with an experienced wills attorney. Your lawyer can help review the will for accuracy, and can also explain how the laws in your area might affect your will. Also, in the event of a will challenge, your estate lawyer can represent you in court in order to clarify distributions of property.