The execution of a will after a loved one’s death does not always play out smoothly. In Massachusetts, family members frequently contest wills, and there are some very common reasons why this occurs.
If the departed party decided to leave most of their money and valuables to charity or to just a couple of family members, the relatives who were left out of the will might become very upset. Sometimes, family members want compensation for assisting the departed at some point in their lives or for contributing to their wealth in an impactful way. It’s normal for an upset party to hire a lawyer to help them obtain what they think they deserve.
If the departed party failed to include specific items in the will during the estate planning process, family members might fight over possession over the item. This is especially common if the item being fought over is high in value.
It’s also common for family members who have been absent for many years to appear at will readings with expectations. This also causes great conflict among family members.
Lack of witnesses
Will contests may also occur due to lack of adequate or trustworthy witnesses. Most states require the presence of a few witnesses during will signings to ensure the individual signing the forms is in sound mind and capable of using good judgment. The presence of a notary is often necessary as well. If sufficient witnesses were not present during the signing or if the document is not notarized, a family member may contest a will, arguing that the departed party was coaxed into signing the will or mentally unfit during the signing.
A fraudulent signature or completely fraudulent document is a clear and valid reason for contesting a will. In some instances, a family member will draft the will themselves and forge the departed’s signature. This activity is illegal, and the offender can be prosecuted.
Will readings are very emotional events, and it’s not uncommon for family members to argue during this time. Unfortunately, many will readings fail due to family disagreements, which can take months or even years to resolve.