What Loved Ones Should Know About Last Will And Testament Contestations

It's always upsetting to learn that someone is contesting a loved one's will. When a will is contested, it means that someone disagrees with some aspect of the will. When a will is contested, it can hold up the probate process considerably and create a stressful atmosphere for everyone concerned. 

Probate Court and How Wills are Evaluated

The probate court is tasked with examining wills and determining their validity. They check for several issues such as:

  • Legality: Wills must contain provisions that are legal in that state. The will cannot contain anything that could be construed as against the law, for instance. That might mean that a will directing someone to perpetrate fraud, theft, and other crimes would be ruled invalid.
  • Properly executed: In some states, wills cannot be holographic (made by hand) and many states require the will to be witnessed and notarized.  
  • Signatures: The will must be signed by the deceased and may be checked against other signatures to confirm its validity.

Why Are Wills Contested?

When a will is contested, it is up to the court to determine its validity. If a will is found to be invalid, the court may either declare it null and void or substitute it with an earlier version of the will. If there is no valid will, the estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy in the jurisdiction where the testator lived.

There are several reasons why a will may be contested and some of which include:

Lack of capacity: A will can be contested if the testator did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and extent of their property or the legal effect of making a will.

Undue influence: If someone exerted undue influence over the testator, such as by pressuring them to make a will in a certain way or by isolating them from others, the will may be contested.

Fraud or forgery: A will may be contested if it was obtained through fraudulent means or if the signature of the testator or witnesses was forged.

Improper execution: A will may be contested if it was not properly executed in accordance with the requirements of state law, such as if it was not signed or witnessed properly.

Mistakes or ambiguity: If the will contains mistakes or is unclear, it may be contested.

It is important to note that contesting a will can be a complex and emotional process, and it may be helpful to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in probate law. 

For more info, contact a local probate attorney