A will is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after their passing. While the process of creating a will is typically straightforward, there are instances where the validity of a will may be questioned or challenged. In this blog post, we’ll explore four common reasons why individuals may choose to challenge a will.
1. Lack Of Testamentary Capacity
One of the most common reasons for contesting a will is the claim that the testator (the person who created the will) lacked testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed. Testamentary capacity refers to the mental and legal capacity of an individual to create a valid will.
To create a valid will, the testator must generally:
- Understand the nature and extent of their assets.
- Be aware of the individuals who would naturally inherit from their estate, such as immediate family members.
- Comprehend the consequences of including or excluding specific individuals from the will.
If it can be proven that the testator did not possess the mental capacity required to make informed decisions regarding their will at the time of execution, the will may be deemed invalid.
2. Undue Influence
Another common reason for contesting a will is the allegation of undue influence. Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure or manipulates the testator into making changes to their will that they would not have made independently.
Signs of undue influence may include:
- Isolation of the testator from family and friends.
- The testator’s dependence on the influencer for care or companionship.
- Sudden and significant changes to the will that benefit the influencer.
Proving undue influence can be challenging, but it is possible with the assistance of experienced probate attorneys who can gather evidence and present a compelling case.
3. Fraud Or Forgery
A will can be contested if there is evidence of fraud or forgery in its creation or execution. Fraud may involve misrepresentations made to the testator regarding the contents of the will, while forgery entails the unauthorized alteration of the will or the testator’s signature.
To contest a will on the grounds of fraud or forgery, it is essential to present clear and convincing evidence of these actions. This often requires a thorough investigation and the expertise of skilled attorneys.
4. Lack Of Proper Formalities
Wills must be executed in accordance with specific legal formalities to be considered valid. In many jurisdictions, the following formalities are typically required:
- The will must be in writing.
- It must be signed by the testator or someone authorized to sign on their behalf, in their presence, and at their direction.
- The signing must occur in the presence of two or more disinterested witnesses.
Failure to meet these formalities can result in a will being declared invalid. For example, if the testator signed the will without the presence of the required witnesses, the will may be contested and declared invalid.
Seeking Legal Guidance In Will Contests
Will contests are complex legal proceedings that require a deep understanding of probate and estate law. If you believe you have a valid reason to contest a will, it is essential to seek legal guidance from experienced probate attorneys like those at [Law Firm Name].Contesting a will is a serious matter, and it requires compelling evidence and a strong legal argument. Skilled attorneys can help you gather the necessary evidence, navigate the legal process, and advocate for your rights. Whether you’re concerned about lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud, or lack of proper formalities, an experienced probate lawyer, like those at W.B. Moore Law, can provide the support and expertise needed to contest a will effectively.