Reading the will of someone you love after they pass away or when they are very ill can be a painful, emotional experience. It can be even more upsetting if you spot certain red flags that the document may not accurately represent your loved one’s wishes.
Red flag: Outdated information
Creating a will is crucial for every adult, but updating it periodically is just as important. If your loved one’s will is outdated, it could be a sign that it did not reflect their wishes at the time of their passing.
Finding an old will might also suggest that there is another, more current version of the will. You can work with other family members and an attorney to try and track down an updated will if it exists.
Red flag: Shocking revelations
If a will includes information no one else knew, it could at the very least create complications during the probate process.
For instance, some of the following surprising disclosures could trigger intense scrutiny and delays:
- Identifying previously unknown beneficiaries
- Stating that there is much more or much less money and property in their estate than others knew
- Leaving sizable gifts to someone no one else knows
Information like this could point to concerns regarding lack of mental capacity when your loved one created their will.
Red flag: Missing information
Omissions, intentional or not, can mean the courts must decide how they affect the administration of the estate. This could be especially true if a will omits:
- Financial information
- Heir names
- Transfers to trusts
Wills with missing information can be confusing and problematic; in some cases, they could be unenforceable.
Red flag: Unexpected decisions
If your loved one’s will includes unexpected instructions, it could suggest that someone else influenced, tricked or forced them into making those decisions.
If your loved one left everything to a caregiver instead of family members, there could be concerns that that person coerced them into changing their will. If their wishes do not align with their religious or cultural beliefs, it is possible that your loved one was a victim of undue influence or experiencing mental incapacity at the time they made their will.
Identifying and addressing these red flags can be crucial in ensuring you protect your loved one’s wishes and legacy.