For many people, the first step in estate planning is simply writing a will. As important as this is, that will may not stand up in a court challenge if your heirs contest it. Below are four different reasons they may do so:
There’s a newer will
Generally speaking, the newest will trumps all older versions. If someone attempts to bring out a will written five years before the most recent documents, it may be contested on the grounds that the newer will should stand instead.
Assuming the individual is not too young to write a will, his or her testamentary capacity will typically be challenged on the grounds that the person was under the influence, suffering from dementia or senility or facing some other ailment. Those conditions could suffice to prove that the testator did not possess the mental capacity to write a valid will at the time it was drafted.
This is when someone else influences a person unfairly to change a will, often to the benefit of the influencer. For instance, if an elderly person writes a new will a week before he or she passes away, taking assets from children and leaving them to caregivers, those children may allege that the caregivers used their position of power to take advantage of the elderly individual.
If it appears that someone else actually wrote the will, it may be declared a forgery and challenged on those grounds.
When large estates get divided, there is a lot of financial incentive for people to try to defraud other heirs. Are you involved in an estate dispute due to a contested will? Make sure you fully understand your legal rights during this complex process.