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Reasons for challenging a will

by | Dec 6, 2021 | Estate Planning

Many people use a last will and testament to specify their wishes for how their assets will be distributed upon their passing. While most wills pass through the probate process with no problem, sometimes, issues arise where a family member or would-be heir feels the need to challenge the document. The following lists some of the most common reasons people challenge a will.

Testamentary Capacity

In most cases, adults 18 and over are the only ones who can create a will. However, even in the case of wills created by adults, litigation can still arise based on factors such as whether the person had the mental capacity, or the testamentary capacity, to create the document. Issues such as dementia and other mental disorders, substance abuse, and more can affect a person’s mental capacity and open the door for someone to challenge the validity of the will.

Undue influence, forgery and fraud

Sometimes, people rely on others for assistance with important matters in their life when they can no longer take care of those things themselves. This extends to financial and personal matters, such as those that would be included in a will. Concerned parties may feel the testator was unduly influenced by another to include that person, a caregiver for instance, in his or her will. As such, those concerned parties may elect to challenge the validity of the will in court.

Trying to administer outdated wills

People have the option of updating their wills at any time while they are alive. In certain instances, a testator may have changed his or her will to intentionally leave out an heir for some reason. However, the court will usually only follow the latest version of the will, which is why it is so important to date all versions of one’s will and have at least two witnesses on hand during the signing.

These are but a few of the reasons someone can challenge the validity and content of a will. If someone feels he or she has a valid reason to challenge a will, that person should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney. Working closely with a lawyer, a concerned loved one or heir can increase his or her chances of obtaining favorable results when challenging a testator’s will.