Wills are important estate planning documents that can help ensure your final wishes get carried out. But what happens if someone contests or disputes the will?
What is a will contest?
A will contest is a legal challenge to the validity of a will. Typically, a will contest is typically filed by someone who believes they’re entitled to a portion of the estate that has been left out of the will. This can be a family member, close friend or even a business associate.
Grounds on which a will can get contested
The first one is lack of testamentary capacity. In this case, the testator (the person who made the will) must have been of sound mind when they made the will. If it’s proven that the testator was not of sound mind, then the will may be invalid.
The second ground is undue influence. This occurs when someone uses their position of power to coerce the testator into making a will that benefits them.
The third ground is fraud. This can take many forms, but typically it involves someone forging the testator’s signature on the will or adding in provisions that the testator did not agree to. The fourth and final ground is duress. This occurs when the testator is forced into making a will under threat of violence or some other form of harm.
How can you contest a will?
If you believe that a will is invalid, you will need to file a petition with the court. This is typically done in the county where the testator resided. You will need to provide evidence to support your claim that the will is invalid. This can be in the form of witness testimony, documents or other evidence. Once the petition is filed, the court will review the evidence and decide whether or not to invalidate the will. If the court finds that the will is valid, then the estate will get distributed according to its terms.
Will contests can be complex and emotionally charged legal matters. It’s important to understand all of your options and rights before moving forward.