Succession: what are the mistakes to avoid when writing a will?

Question to an expert

I am about to write my will, what should I pay attention to?

The most frequently used will is the holograph, which must be written in the testator’s hand alone, in full. Testators are often surprised to discover that a holographic will cannot be typed. Even signed by the testator, it would not be valid. This is a first point of vigilance.

It also happens that the testators forget to date or sign the document – ​​conditions for the validity of the holographic will. If the absence of a date does not automatically lead to its nullity, the judges being able in particular to reconstitute it by means of extrinsic elements, the signature is a formality which cannot be replaced.

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Another common mistake: forgetting to appoint a sole legatee. A person without a spouse or descendant may want his estate to go to a friend or association rather than a brother, nephew or distant cousin. It is then necessary to designate one or more universal legatees. They will have the seizin of the assets of the estate, which will allow them to close the financial assets, sell the real estate and issue bequests.

Imprecise terms

Failing this, the notary will seek out the heirs “by blood” so that they deliver the legacies, even if they do not receive any assets. This sometimes requires a genealogical search, and when they are found, they do not always respond, having no interest in accepting an estate to receive nothing… Hence great difficulties in settling the succession.

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And we must avoid imprecise or legally inappropriate terms, such as “I wish”. A wish is not a bequest, the intention of the testator may not be respected.

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