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What should you know about contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Estate Litigation

Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience for anyone, and it’s also sometimes the start of an estate plan nightmare. This may be the case when your loved one’s will indicates signs that there was undue influence or some other significant issue present when this documentation was created.

In those cases, you may be in a position contest the will, but this is only possible under very specific circumstances. Understanding who can challenge a will and under what circumstances are important so you know if this is an avenue worth exploring.

Only specific people can challenge a will

The only people who can contest a will are those who are considered to have an interest in it. This includes creditors who are trying to collect debts, people who are considered heirs if a person dies without a will and beneficiaries named in the current or past wills.

Will challenges must stem from specific circumstances

Even if you’re someone who can contest a will, you must have a valid reason to do so. These are very limited, and proving them can often be a challenge.

  • A new will is located: The date on each will is what determines which will is valid at the time of the creator’s death.
  • Mental capacity: This is known as a lack of testamentary capacity and is often associated with dementia or intoxication when the will is signed.
  • Undue influence: This means someone convinced the person to write the will in their favor.
  • Forgery: A will’s creator should sign the will, but forgery occurs when someone else signs that person’s name to a fake will.
  • Fraud: This is the act of creating a fake will.
  • Failure to include required elements: All wills have specific requirements, so wills are invalid if those aren’t present.

If you’re considering challenging a will, you should work with a legal representative who can help you explore the options you have to find a resolution. It’s critical to think logically about this matter. But it may also help to think about the familial impacts of challenging the will before you commit to any particular approach, given all that is at stake.