Few phrases that include the word “fatal” ever promise a positive outcome, and “fatal errors in execution” is no different. When you’re developing an estate plan, a fatal error in execution can throw significant problems in your estate’s way when it comes time to distributing estate property. Let’s take a look at the term in more detail.
Execution: The execution of a Will is the formal signing of the document. This signing must comply with state laws and includes various elements in order to be successful. For example, all states require that both the testator and two competent witnesses sign the document. But does the testator sign first? What if the witnesses sign first? Do the witnesses have to sign in each other’s presence or in the presence of the testator? All of these questions can impact the validity of the execution and, if not properly accounted for, can lead to a fatal execution error.
Fatal Error: A fatal execution error is an error during the execution process that invalidates the will. This means that even if you’ve created a Will and stated in detail all of your preferences, if a court later finds a fatal execution error it will determine the Will is invalid. It will then disregard your Will and your choices will have no impact on how your estate is distributed.