Challenging a decedent’s Last Will and Testament is a serious matter. When you object to a Will, you are questioning the validity of it. Most objections to a Will are filed by relatives that are angry because they were not named as a beneficiary and they assume it was a mistake. Another common scenario is when a spouse objects to a Will that was drafted before the marriage and does not name him or her as a beneficiary.
There are numerous reasons a Will can be held invalid. Below are a few examples of the most common grounds for a Court to render a Will unenforceable:
- Lack of Mental Capacity. The law requires a testator to have the mental capacity to understand the nature and amount of his or her estate. The testator must comprehend who has been named as the beneficiaries and how the Will distributes his or her property. If it can be proven that the deceased lacked adequate mental capacity, the Will may be held invalid.
- Undue Influence. A Will must be created and signed freely and without coercion by third-parties. A Will executed under duress is invalid.
- Mistake or Fraud. If a Will was signed by the testator based upon a misunderstanding of the contents of the Will or if there is actual fraud involved, the Will is unenforceable.
- Revoked Will. A Will that has been previously revoked by the testator cannot be enforced.
- Failure to Meet Requirements. Every state has specific requirements that must be met in order for the Will to be valid. If it can be proven that one of these requirements was not met, the Will may be successfully challenged.
Will challenges can be expensive and damaging to your family relationships. Consideration should be given to strategies to defeat a claim in advance. If incapacity is a concern, having a Doctor or medical professional confirm legal capacity is advisable. If a testator is making a gift to a caregiver, special care should be given to avoid claims of undue influence. Finally, proper drafting will avoid most challenges. Avoid DIY (do it yourself) Wills or you are almost certain to open the door to claims. If you want to ensure that your Will cannot be successfully challenged, we can help. Additionally, if you are interested in learning whether or not you should object to a loved one’s Will, contact our office.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.