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Reasons to Contest a Will

Published on February 16th, 2019

Estate Planning Lawyer

After you die, the last thing you want is for your heirs to contest your will. It creates undue stress in an already stressful situation. However, people contest wills every day. Fortunately, the courts don’t allow individuals to successfully contest a will just because they don’t like it. There are actually just a few legal reasons to contest a will in the majority of states.

Here are legal reasons to contest a will.

Undue Influence

Some people can influence others to create the will they want for them. In this case, a will can be contested. However, nagging and verbal abuse are not enough to constitute as undue influence. Proving undue influence generally involves actions like talking to the testator’s lawyer about the provisions for the will and keeping the testator away from family and friends.

Will Isn’t Signed Appropriately

In order for a will to be valid, it has to be signed. In the majority of states, the will has to be signed by the testator in front of at least two different witnesses. The testator and witnesses have to be in the room at the same time as the will is being signed. If a will isn’t assigned in accordance to applicable state laws, it is not considered valid.

Fraud

A will can also be contested if heirs believe that it was forged. For instance, if a person creates a will in another’s person’s name and forges the other person’s signature so that the estate is left to them, the will is considered invalid.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Heirs may contest a will if they don’t think the testator was of sound mind when they established their will. For a will to be valid, the testator must know the value of their estate, understand that they’re establishing a will and not be suffering from a disease that may affect their judgment. For instance, if a person has Alzheimer’s, they don’t have the mental capacity to make a valid will.

Something in the Will Isn’t Legal

If there are terms in the will that are illegal in your state, it may be considered invalid. For example, you can’t include a joint-held property in your will because it automatically goes to the surviving tenant.

Consulting With an Estate Planning Attorney

If you are unsure if something in you will is valid, you should talk to a qualified estate planning attorney. They can help you establish a thorough and valid will that will hold up in court. Additionally, when you go through a major life event, such as a divorce or have a child, you’ll want to contact your estate planning lawyer Roseville, CA relies on to make necessary adjustments to your will. If you don’t update your will after big life events, your assets could get into the wrong hands.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Yee Law Group, P.C. for their insight into estate planning and contesting a will.

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