What can “duress” do to the validity of a will?

by | Apr 4, 2018 | estate planning, Firm News

Creating a last will and testament is an important estate planning matter for a Dublin resident. Through a will, a person can leave their loved ones assets and property that are contained in their end-of-life estate. Without a will, a person’s estate would be subject to the intestacy laws of the state and may result in inheritances being given to individuals the decedent had no intention of benefitting with their death.

However, not every will that is created and signed is valid. There are a number of reasons that a will may be considered invalid, and while some of those bases are technical, such as the failure of the will maker to have sufficient witnesses as the execution of the will, others are based in the actions of others. For example, if a person pressured or forced a will maker to leave them an inheritance, the will may be invalidated due to the presence of “duress” in its creation.

Duress is form of coercion. It can apply to a victim in the form of threats of violence, economic hardship or straightforward emotional abuse. It causes a will maker to do something that they would not otherwise have done with their estate plan and to benefit someone who used force or coercion to get what they wanted out of the victim.

If a will is created under duress, it may be thrown out as invalid, so that the coercive party cannot benefit from their actions. Working with estate planning attorneys can help prospective will makers avoid issues that may later cause their wills to be invalidated and their testamentary intentions to be ignored.