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Top 10 Wills Articles

When Howard Hughes died, a gas station attendant came forward with a handwritten document he claimed was Hughes’s will. The will left the attendant over $150 million dollars and split the rest between various charities and organizations. Hughes was known to be an eccentric recluse when he died so the story of how the station attendant helped drive a disheveled and weak Hughes back to Las Vegas one night and a mysterious man leaving the will with the attendant afterwards sounded plausible to many people.

However, the Nevada courts had a different idea and declared the will a forgery and split up Hughes’s fortune between his 22 cousins. For good reason, there are many legal requirements in place before a will can be declared authentic. As a starting point to understanding how wills work, the LegalMatch Law Library has compiled a list of the Top 10 Articles on Wills.

1. Wills Contest

Sometimes a family member will feel that they have not received the inheritance that they deserve and try to challenge the validity of the will. This is called a will contest and can result in a long legal battle. If the challenger successfully invalidates the will, he or she may stand to inherit.

2. Contested Wills or Probate

Probate is the legal process where the court distributes the estate of someone who has passed away. If they had a will, the court distributes according to the will. If there is no will, the court distributes according to state intestate laws.

3. What to Do If You Have Been Disinherited

If you feel you have been wrongly disinherited, there are a variety of legal challenges you can bring in order to overturn the will. Additionally, depending on the state you live in, you might be in the class of relatives that cannot be disinherited.

4. Alternative Valuation Method for Gross Estate

Alternative valuation method for gross estate is a tax principle used to lessen the amount of estate taxes one must pay. Depending on your circumstances, choosing the alternative valuation method can save the estate and those inheriting property large amounts of money.

5. Disclaiming a Gift or Inheritance

Sometimes receiving a gift or inheritance might prove to be more trouble than the gift is worth because of tax issues. If that is the case with a recent gift or inheritance, you can always refuse to accept the gift and for tax purposes and it will be as if you never received it.

6. Uniform Probate Code

The UPC seeks to make it easier and less expensive for people to make a will and have it executed in the manner they want it to be when they pass away. If you live in a state that has adopted the UPC, you should read this article to better understand how your estate will be distributed if you decide not to have a will.

7. Wills

Wills are extremely important in that they determine how your property will be distributed upon your death. It is important to draft your will properly and according to all the formalities, otherwise your possessions may not be distributed in the manner you wish for them to be.

8. Undue Influence in Will Drafting

If you are looking to challenge the validity of a will, one way to do so is to claim that the decedent, the person who wrote the will, was being unduly influenced. Undue influence is when someone pressures the person writing the will to write it in a way they wouldn’t have without the influence.

9. What to Put in a Living Will

If you have decided to make a living will, there are several things you must think about including in the document. It is important to have everything in writing so that your wishes can be followed to the letter.

10. Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Dealing with end-of-life issues can be quite complicated. Understanding that, LegalMatch has compiled a compendium of article topics to help you navigate issues concerning wills, trusts, and estates.

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Law Library Staff

  • Jessica Tam

    LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor

    Attorney at Law