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Working through and defending a will contest

| Feb 1, 2021 | Will Contests

When a testator signs their Last Will and Testament, it is meant to be the legal document that outlines how the assets or inheritance from the testator is to be disbursed. An executor in Massachusetts should be aware of what is needed from them and be prepared to defend against the will if it is contested.

How can wills be contested?

A will cannot be contested simply because the contester doesn’t like what is written in the will. There are four chief reasons for will contests:

  • Applicable state laws were not followed when the testator signed their Last Will and Testament
  • The testator was lacking in testamentary capacity and their signature was not valid for the legal document
  • The testator was improperly influenced as they grew weaker either mentally or physically
  • The signature of the testator was captured fraudulently

When a will is contested for one of the reasons above, a verified complaint must be entered seeking to contest the validity of the Last Will and Testament.

What should an executor do to defend a will contest?

Preparing key eye witness testimony is the most important thing to do when preparing for a will contest. The first step is to contact the attorney who drafted the will as they will be able to speak to the legality of the will and to their eye witness testimony for when the testator actually signed the document. Depending on which of the four reasons listed above is the reasoning behind a will contest, certain people may also be prudent to contact. For example, testamentary capacity could be confirmed with medical staff if the testator was hospitalized when signing the will.

Overcoming a will contest

Fighting a will contest is a daunting task. Therefore, it may be best to contact a qualified attorney with experience to aid in the process. As this may be able to help identify the persons needed for eyewitness testimony, a qualified attorney may also be able to guide you through the process to ensure you locate the eyewitnesses that are needed.