The passing away of a parent and loved one is both painful and emotionally challenging. But things get even worse when you feel that the deceased’s will did not provide for you fairly, or did not provide for you at all, and you decide to contest the will. In this case, we recommend that you seek experts’ advice in the field of will litigation. However, as there are several grounds for contesting a will, you may not be sure of the validity of your claim. We are here to alleviate some of the stress: we have put together below some common reasons for contesting a will.
Was the will properly signed and are the signatures genuine? Or was there a full testamentary capacity at the time of the will’s creation? While these legal reasons can be difficult and expensive to dispute and prove, you can still bring the case to court if you really want to. In general cases, you can contest a will on four legal grounds:
1. Determining if the Will Was Legally and Correctly Signed
The set of laws on trusts and wills, which stipulate a valid testament’s specific requirements, may vary according to each State. But in most situations, the person creating the will and one or two witnesses must sign the document. Since all these people have to be present when the will is made, for instance, the authenticity of a signature or a missing one can be popular reasons for contesting a will.
2. Identifying Whether There Was Insufficient Testamentary Capacity
If a testator, the person making the will, does not have the required testamentary capacity when drawing up the will, the document shall be considered invalid.
Testamentary capacity means that the testator must understand:
–the extent of his inheritance
–the purpose and impact of the will
–the wishes of those who expect to be beneficiaries of the will.
Consequently, the person should not have a mental illness during the creation of the testament, which could encourage him to make legacies that would not otherwise have been made. Proving this incapacity may be difficult in many cases, and it is preferable to call upon lawyers specialising in will disputes.
3. Doubts on Possible Improper Influence or Excessive Pressure on the Testator
Sadly, it is not unusual to suspect that a testator has been unduly influenced or forced to include specific terms in the will. This can be explained by the fact that as we grow older, we become more emotionally vulnerable and suffer from low mental capacities and memory loss, which is then used by family members or friends.
4. Proving That the Will Was Fraudulently Acquired
Like abuse of influence, fraud is a significant concern in the creation of wills. Someone can contest a will by proving that the testator has been deceived by signing it or including some clauses that he/she did not mean to do. For example, a testator may be given a paper and be informed that it is a deed or a power of attorney when it is actually a will. The challenge in establishing fraud lies in the fact that the main witness is the testator, and he/she is not there anymore to testify. Therefore, the witnesses who have signed the will take on great importance to establish the will’s validity.
You are now aware of the main legal reasons for contesting a will. Yet if you feel aggrieved and need a company to tackle your litigation from start to finish, Oates Rennick & Associates, a team of property dispute lawyers that provides practical solutions for all estate disputes, would be your go-to solution.