Achieving the Best Possible Outcomes in Legal Cases

3 notable grounds to contest a will

by Maurice Carroll

Just because you are unhappy with the sharing of assets in general isn't sufficient grounds to effectively contest the legitimacy of a will. However, this article highlights a number of valid grounds for which entitled heirs and beneficiaries can initiate a will challenge through their lawyers.

Failure to adhere to will formalities

You can contest a will by filing a petition that the will wasn't properly executed. Every state has a set of rules governing the formulation and implementation of a will. Generally, in most states, the will must be in writing, witnesses should be present and their signatures appended on the said document.  If you can prove that the will execution wasn't in accordance with state law, the document will be struck down. In order to find out what exactly took place at the will signing, your attorney will question the witnesses who were at the will signing to identify the precise practices involved during the signing of the document. The objective here is to prove that the events leading to the signing of will didn't obey state law and thus the will should be declared null and void.

Lack of testamentary capacity

Through your lawyer, you can file a petition that the creator of the will, also referred to as a testator, lacked enough capacity to draft a will. Basically, this means that the creator of the will was not mentally stable when they made up the will. The law stipulates that the testator be of sound mind when executing a will. This means that the testator should be conscious, free from the influence of drugs, alcohol, emotional interference or medical and outside influences. For this type of will challenge, you must be ready to show proof that the testator didn't have the right frame of mind to make a sensible decision and that they didn't completely understand the effects of drafting the said will. The court will carefully analyse the testator's medical records in arriving at a court decision.

Undue influence or fraud

Another notable contest against a will is what is referred to as undue influence or fraud. An example of fraud is when a trusted friend asks the testator to append their signature on a pre-written will without the testator's knowledge of what exactly they are signing. As far as undue influence is concerned, coercive tactics are applied on the testator in an effort to persuade them that the influencer or another party chosen by the influencer ought to be named as the heir in the will. A petition based on undue influence is never an easy option. You bear the responsibility of proving the claim. Substantial evidence as well as testimonies from people who knew the testator are vital to prove the case of fraud or undue influence.