For the most part, wills are held as sacred as they are technically the last wishes of the deceased. However, there are several circumstances where one can consider contesting a will. For instance, a family member may believe they are entitled to a greater share than others. People who are completely left off the will may also want to be included. Accordingly, state laws provide certain grounds under which a valid estate document can be contested. These include:

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

The law provides that for a will to be valid, the testator has to be of sound mind, be of legal age, and should not be under any coercion or direction. However, it is common for older people to have reduced mental capacity. Any will drafted by such a person may be declared invalid, as would any changes they make to an existing will. Other factors that can reduce testamentary capacity include dementia, severe illness, and intoxication.

Undue Influence

A will can be successfully contested if it is proven that the testator made it under duress, manipulation, or coercion. However, the contestant must prove beyond all doubt that the will, as it is, does not reflect the testator’s genuine desire. There also needs to be proof that the testator was susceptible to undue influence due to their vulnerability, be it from age, sickness, or weakened mental state.

Fraud or Forgery

A court may invalidate a will if it is proven that the testator’s signature was forged or the testator was deceived into signing the documents. The evidential requirements in this case are typically high and may involve the use of handwriting analysis, proof of motive and dating discrepancies, and documentary evidence of unusual activity.

Improper Execution

Every state has laws that regulate the drawing and execution of wills. Any break from the laws may render a will invalid. For instance, some states require that a will be signed by two witnesses who have no interest in the estate. Missing witness signatures or proof of witness interest may, in that case, render the will improperly executed and, therefore, invalid.

Need Professional Legal Assistance?

If you are seeking to contest a will and are unsure if you have the grounds to do so, The Williams Litigation Group’s attorneys can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience in estate and probate litigation and have successfully handled numerous cases. Call us today and schedule your free consultation.