As the name implies, a deathbed will is a will made up at the last second, when someone is very close to passing away. These are dangerous, as it’s often very easy for people to contest them. They can claim that the person who passed away wasn’t in his or her right mind, perhaps due to aging and perhaps due to medications. These wills, especially if they cut out someone who was in the will before, often lead to long legal battles.

So, if these wills are easier to overturn and can cause a lot of drama in the family, why do people use them?

Sometimes, it’s because they simply were not expecting to die that quickly. A person could have a fatal disease, like cancer, but he or she may be expecting to continue living for years. However, if the disease suddenly worsens and the person realizes there are only days left, the will could be changed suddenly.

Other times, it’s because people just can’t make up their minds about difficult decisions until they know they have an immediate deadline. Someone may be struggling with what to do with a beloved family home, for example. Should it be sold so the money can be split between two siblings, or should one sibling get it to keep it in the family? It’s hard to decide, and someone may not really be able to make a choice until there is little time left.

Again, though, a deathbed will may not stand. It’s far better to look into all of your options well in advance so that you can craft a will that won’t be contested in New York.

Source: Wall Street Journal, “Changing a Will at the Last Minute,” Arden Dale, accessed June 03, 2016