Cautions for those with foreign wills

Residents of Missouri who have lived in other countries might want to review their wills if they were created in those foreign locations. Although foreign wills are typically admissible in the United States, there are situations that could result in courts rejecting such documents. A recent Florida case involved such a situation as a will executed in Argentina was rejected in lieu of a prior will.

In the Florida case, the will in question violated some norms that are typically expected by courts in the United States. For example, a will should be signed. Although the will in this case was dictated by the testator and heard by three witnesses before being notarized in Argentina, neither the testator nor the witnesses signed the document. Another problem with the situation in question is that major changes were made to the previous will. Documents that make minor changes to prior wills are more likely to meet with approval if questions exist. With major changes, it is wise to verify that American standards have been clearly met.

Legal terms like notarial and nuncupative came into play in the Florida case. A notarial will is one that is transcribed by a notary. However, this term may not be clearly defined in the legal systems of some states. Similarly, a nuncupative will is an oral will, which is another area that can be unclear in the laws of some states. Clarification in the Florida situation may provide guidance for authorities in other parts of the country.

Because dramatic changes to one’s estate plan can result in major challenges by heirs, it is helpful to consult an attorney to ensure that one’s wishes are clearly handled in a legal manner. Strategies for heading off challenges by heirs might include reducing but not eliminating inheritances for specific individuals.

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