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What circumstances can lead to a contested will?

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2022 | Probate

When an individual drafts a will, the person expects that the legal document sufficiently outlines one’s wishes for an estate after death. In many cases, families can follow wills without incident.

Sometimes circumstances raise questions about the validity of the directions. Such doubt may move family members or other interested parties to contest the will’s contents for the following reasons.

Undue influence

When people create wills, they must do so of their own volition and without outside coercion. Undue influence occurs when someone takes advantage of another’s weakened mental or physical state to compel the drafting, changing or signing of a will for personal benefit. If someone unduly influenced the deceased, any interested parties can contest the will in court.

Lack of capacity

Another common reason family members contest wills is when they believe that the deceased did not have sufficient capacity at the time of signing the document. This often occurs when the decedent had some form of cognitive impairment.

Mental difficulties can prevent a person from understanding the implications of such actions and preclude the individual from making sound decisions independently. Even when people complete wills of their own volition, a lack of capacity can leave room for a challenge.

Fraudulent writing or execution

Individuals may contest wills due to fraudulent writing or execution practices. Fraudulent writing involves forging signatures or altering existing documents without permission from the involved parties. Fraudulent execution is when someone misrepresents the terms or subject of the agreement and misleads another into signing it.

Contesting a will is no small matter. The process affects the whole family and can prolong probate. Understanding this fact can guide individuals in crafting unassailable estate plans and help inheritors make wise decisions during probate litigation.