In the vast majority of cases, wills are upheld without any issues. However, legal experts such as the estate law specialists at The Will Dispute Lawyers know that a will can be contested or its validity challenged if not clearly and precisely written.
Before you attempt to contest a will, you must consider the following things:
1. Check for any ‘no contest’ clauses
In some cases, wills include a clause that sees beneficiaries disinherit assets intended for them if they initiate a challenge to the will. In the event that this clause exists, you will need to evaluate whether it is worth the risk of receiving absolutely nothing from the estate of the deceased. In this circumstance, consultation with a qualified and professional legal professional is strongly advised.
2. Confirm that you have standing
If considering challenging a will, it’s imperative that you have standing to make this challenge. Check the laws and seek absolute confirmation that you are appropriately eligible to pose a challenge to a will. To do this, refer to the laws and conditions applicable to your/the deceased’s home location. It’s advisable that you seek the advice of a professional.
3. Ascertain that your reasons for contesting a will are valid
Be clear about the reason you have for contesting a will. It’s not acceptable to contest a will on a whim; you will need to have a specific, legally acceptable reason. Valid reasons for contesting a will commonly include duress, lack of capacity, menace, fraud and error.
4. Can you prove undue influence?
Successfully proving undue influence is extremely difficult, but it is possible to challenge a deceased person’s will if they faced extensive pressure by another person to enact a change or changes to their will.
5. Is fraud a factor?
Fraud is also complex and difficult to prove. However, if the author of the will was somehow tricked into putting their signature to a will, the will is invalid. If fraud is a factor, it’s possible that the deceased was not informed that the document was their will and was led to believe that it was a deed or other type of legal document.
6. Was the will improperly executed?
Improper execution of a will is determined by the laws of the state in which the will was created. If, according to the applicable laws of the relevant state, a will was not prepared properly or was improperly executed, it could be deemed invalid in court.
7. Did the deceased lack capacity?
A will may be contested if the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity required to think through the issues involved at the time the will was created. If it is possible to prove that the will was made by a person who did not have adequate mental capacity for creating the will, it could be deemed invalid.
Before contesting a will, it is important to carefully consider whether you have grounds to challenge the will. To completely understand your position, rights and responsibilities, it is recommended that you seek the advice and support of a qualified and experienced legal professional and weigh up whether contesting the will is worth the risks and expensive financial costs involved.
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