Contesting a will is a legal process that allows interested parties to challenge the validity of a deceased person’s will.
While you should respect the wishes of the deceased, there are specific conditions under which one can contest a will.
Lack of testamentary capacity
If the person who created the will (the testator) did not possess the mental competence to understand the nature of their actions and the consequences of their decisions due to dementia or drug and alcohol abuse, for example, you may have grounds to contest the will.
Undue influence occurs when someone exerts excessive pressure or manipulation on the testator, leading to decisions that do not reflect the testator’s true wishes. Individuals such as caregivers or family members may unduly influence the testator to benefit themselves unfairly.
If you can show that someone misled or deceived the testator as he or she signed a will that did not accurately represent their intentions, you can question the document’s validity. Fraudulent activities include misrepresentations, forgeries or deceitful tactics during a will’s creation or execution.
A will’s execution must be legal to prove validity. Common issues include the absence of witnesses, improper notarization or signatures made under duress. Ensuring that the will complies with legal execution requirements prevents contestation on these grounds.
Forbes reports that 46% of Americans as of 2021 have wills or estate plans. However, some have multiple wills, and you can contest a will based on the existence of a previously drafted will, especially if you find evidence of coercion or fraud.
When you understand the conditions for contesting a will, you can protect the integrity of the deceased person’s final wishes and ensure a fair resolution for all parties involved.