Almost all wills are court-probated without any issue. But there are instances of long, and utterly ugly dispute among the heirs. The toughest thing about these disputes is that the person who wrote the will has already passed away. They will not be present to prove the validity and the true intentions of the will they left behind.
In this case, it’s not the court to settle the disputes based on laid-down legal procedure presented by the family who question the will’s content. It’s up to you, as a prospective beneficiary, to learn how to figure out if someone has left you money that you are entitled to. So, what are the usual reasons why testaments and wills are usually contested in court? Here are some instances:
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
By law, only persons aged 18 years or older, can legally make a will. Minors cannot make a will, except in rare circumstances like being deployed in the military or when married. This is questioned, if the adult lacked the mental capacity to make a will, or if under the influence of illegal substances or suffering from mental disorders like senility, dementia, and insanity. To contest a will based on reduced mental capacity, the individual who is contesting the will need to prove the author of the will did not have a sound mind to comprehend the consequences of making that particular will.
Lack of Understanding to Comprehend or Approve the Will’s Contents
Apart from someone’s mental incapacity, the court’s suspicion would be aroused if the deceased did not comprehend how a will works, nor fully approved the will’s content. Some such situations include: that the will could be signed by somebody else. That the deceased person suffered from a vision, hearing, or speech impediment. The deceased had poor literacy skills was frail, vulnerable, and resulted in an unusual will.
Failure to Comply With Formalities
For creating a valid will and make estate plans, are: It must be in writing and written in a language that is known to the will’s author or testator. It must be signed by the testator on every page, and witnessed by three witnesses, but they cannot be the beneficiaries or be wed to the beneficiaries mentioned in the will. It must be numbered if multiple pages exist, to prevent pages being added or removed.
Undue Influence, Fraud, and Forgery
Another valid reason to challenge or contest a will in court is if you show that the will was forged or made under undue influence or force. Then the will could be fake or drafted without the testator’s voluntary intention. Generally, this happens when there’s manipulation by forcing the testator to bequeath the latter’s properties to some specific person/s. In this instance, you must prove that the testator was either forced or intimidated to prepare the will.
This arises if someone is financially dependent on the testator, but was omitted in their will or with inadequate provision for their financial maintenance, which they were receiving from the deceased. The list above is only a general guide, not taken as something absolute and 100 % applicable in your state. Laws on estate planning and succession differ in various states, so do consult your lawyer, who are the legal experts. With sound legal advice, you may successfully contest a will if valid legal grounds exist.