Can a person change a will from his or her deathbed?

When a person is facing his or her imminent death, fear and regret are some of the emotions that he or she may experience. As a result, the person may suddenly feel an intense urge to make last minute changes to an existing will. If the changes are completed and the document signed, a deathbed will can be just as valid as any other will. However, such a will can also become vulnerable to estate litigation.

The death of a loved one is always an emotional experience, and when you add legal matters to the mix, it can turn volatile. Family members may feel concerned that the will was changed outside of the deceased's true wishes. Some of the issues that may lead to a family member challenging the will include the following.

-- The concerned family member may feel the deceased was unduly influenced by someone who stood to benefit from changes to the will.

-- The concerned party may worry that the deceased's deteriorating condition affected his or her testamentary capacity.

-- Some family members may feel that the last minute changes were not executed properly resulting in an invalid will.

An article abstract published online by the Cambridge University Press addresses testamentary capacity for makers of deathbed wills. The results indicate that dying testators may be affected by delirium and other medical conditions. This is yet one more reason a deathbed will can be problematic.

If you still have concerns about your own deathbed will or that of a loved one, please seek advice from a British Columbia estate planning lawyer about your immediate options. As always, it is best to approach estate planning ahead of time when the testator is well and of sound mind.

Source: Global News, "The mortality of deathbed wills," Caroline Abela, accessed June 09, 2016

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