Essentially, a will is established to protect an individual’s wishes regarding his or her estate. It is the document that will also be enforced by their legal party, or chosen representative. For the most part, the estate will be distributed according to the will without any complications. But there are instances where people “contest” the will, and this can be based on several different reasons. Also, the individual or group needs to have a good basis for bringing the contest in the first place.
Here are some of the most common types of will contests.
1. Questionable Mental Capacity
Questioning the mental capacity of the testator (the individual who sets up the will) is one of the most common contests. Given that the testator has to be of sound mind when executing or adapting his or her will, it leaves a lot of room for exploitation. In other words, the contest is based on the assumption that the testator wasn’t of sound mind and complete understanding.
While courts don’t particularly like this type of claim, it is still one that enjoys a lot of popularity.
2. The Testator Was Wrongfully Influenced
A will should typically only be handled by the testator and his or her attorney because it prevents this type of contest to hold any ground. Basically, the contest claims that somebody influenced or coerced the testator at the time when the will was executed.
If it can be proven that a third party influenced the decisions of the te
3. The Right Procedure Wasn’t Followed
This is going to vary between states, but there are certain things that need to apply when establishing a will. For example, some states have made it mandatory to sign the will in front of witnesses and have them sign as well. The moment specific procedure isn’t followed, it can render the will invalid.
4. Basic Fraud
There are situations where individuals are lied to and deceived during the execution of the will. When this can be proven in court, the will is immediately declared as useless.
What happens when the contest is successful?
The court will either rely on a previous will to distribute the estate, or it will implement the state’s intestacy rules. And it is due to these contests that individuals use experienced and trustworthy estate planners to help secure their last wishes, otherwise, it can easily be unfairly contested.