Say the worst has happened. One of your beloved friends or family members
has passed away. You find yourself at the reading of their will and find
that things are not quite right. You question if your loved one really
wrote the will or if they were of sound mind. After deciding that things
are not as they should be, you decide to contest the will.
You have every right to challenge the will. Just know that it is a rare
occurrence, with 99% of trusts and wills usually going through. But if
you do decide to take action, here is a list of things to keep in mind.
When an individual writes a will, they usually need to be 18 or older.
There are some cases where states will allow younger individuals to draw
up a directive if they are married, in the military, or emancipated. If
individuals do not make these basic requirements, their will can be contested.
Contents of Will
In general, the specific details in the will should be clearly stated.
In general, wills usually explicitly state whose will it is, have at least
one major provision, and appoint an executor. Some states ask for more
Mental state of a testator is important when it comes to drafting a will.
The person making the will should be “of sound mind.” This
means that they should have the ability to make decisions for themselves.
Other things that states will look for are:
- Individual knew they were creating a will
- Individual knew who they were responsible for, such as partner or child
- Individual clearly knew what they possessed in terms of property and assets
and could choose how to distribute them
Fraud or Undue Influence
One of the fastest ways to have a will invalidated is if you can prove
that it was forged or the testator was coerced into writing it. If the
person writing the will was manipulated or did not have free reign to
make the choices of how to divide property, you can have a case to contest the will.
Wills that are typed or printed from a computer must be signed in front
of two witnesses. Typically, these witnesses cannot be individuals who
are inheritors named in the will. Documents that are completely hand written
are valid in some states, but are easier to contest because they do not
Cases Usually Handled in Probate Court
In order to challenge a will, you must file the correct petition in the
state probate court. This court has jurisdiction over the deceased’s
estate. Each state require different information and deadlines, so make
sure you know what your state requires.
Challenging a Will is Risky
Some wills come with no-contest clauses. These are placed in the document
to dissuade others from protesting against it. If you do decide to challenge
a will, and lose, you might lose what is named to you in the will.
It can be hard to think about properties and assets when you are grieving
over the loss of a loved one, but if you do think something is wrong with
a will and would like to contest it, call Domina Law Group to find out
your legal rights.