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Will modifications could cause trouble during probate

Going through the process of estate planning might be a big step for many people. Whether or not it takes convincing to get someone to create a will, chances are that the testator will want to get it right. No one wants to have an estate plan in place and feel as though it doesn't truly reflect his or her wishes. This is why it's possible to update and revise estate plans essentially up until the time that a person passes on.

The most recent will and testament in place at the time a person passes away is the one that is enforced. However, questions can be raised about the validity of a will if it's created and signed in less-than-ideal circumstances. This can open up the possibility of probate litigation, which can be lengthy and stressful.

The reality is people might gain insight into the people and causes that are most important to them if they fall ill. In turn, this could inspire last-minute changes to wills and other estate planning documents. This is fine, but measures should be taken to ensure that the plan will be executed without major legal challenges.

Wills created while people are dealing with health problems could be challenged on the grounds that the testator was not competent; thus, invalidating the will. As such, it may be helpful to have competency screenings performed and documented at the time a person signs his or her will. This could provide some insurance against challenges.

Essentially every will is required to go through probate. Proactive estate planning can help remove major roadblocks that can spring up during this time.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Changing a Will at the Last Minute," Arden Dale, Nov. 10, 2013

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