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Why would someone contest a will?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2023 | Estate Planning

In estate planning, the will is a fundamental legal document that outlines how others will distribute a person’s assets and possessions after their passing. However, there are instances when individuals choose to contest a will, disputing its validity or certain provisions within it.

Such challenges can lead to complex legal battles and strained family relationships.

Validity concerns

One of the primary reasons someone may contest a will is due to concerns regarding its validity. If a will is not executed properly, lacks the necessary legal requirements or shows signs of undue influence or coercion, it may be invalid.

Contesting a will in such cases aims to ensure that the deceased’s true intentions are upheld, as a legally invalid will may not accurately represent their wishes.

Inadequate inheritance

Another common motivation for contesting a will is the perceived unfair distribution of assets. When beneficiaries believe they have been unfairly excluded or received an inadequate share, they may challenge the will to seek a more equitable distribution.

Considering that 70% to 80% of American households do not receive any inheritance money, many people are keen to get as much as possible when they have an opportunity. Disagreements often occur when there are changes in familial dynamics, such as a new spouse or stepchildren, which can lead to disputes over inheritance.

Questions of capacity

Contesting a will can also arise from concerns about the mental capacity of the deceased during the creation of the will. If the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the implications of their actions or was suffering from cognitive impairment at the time of will creation, the document may be invalid.

Undue influence

Undue influence is another factor that may drive a contestation of a will. If a person with significant influence over the testator manipulated them into making certain provisions in the will, those affected by these provisions may contest the document to prevent the influencer from keeping all the assets.

Fraudulent activity

In cases where there is evidence of fraud surrounding the creation or execution of the will, contestation becomes an important course of action. Fraud can cover various deceitful acts, such as forging signatures or misrepresenting the document’s contents, and challenging the will becomes important to protect the deceased’s true wishes.

While writing a will can be emotionally taxing, it serves as an important mechanism for protecting the rights of all involved parties. Staying calm and collected during this time can help you have peace of mind.