When you first saw the will of your deceased loved one, you were taken aback by what you saw. It may be that unequal shares were left to beneficiaries, something you're almost certain they wouldn't do. Property that they promised you would inherit was instead left to one of your siblings and they took your place as an executor. It may also be the case that the document includes questionable language you don't believe is in accordance with the law.
Luckily, you do have options to correct the inconsistencies. Here are two ways to contest a will in court.
The will was improperly executed.
Your attorney may inform you that a judge may call the validity of a will into question if its provisions to follow state law. There are many reasons that a will could not be legally recognized.
- They were not over the age of 18 upon execution.
- They were under undue influence.
- There were not two or more witnesses to the signing of the will.
The testator did not have the legal capacity to sign.
Legal capacity is determined when a person is of sound mind and has the mental capacity to enter a legal agreement when naming heirs. Medical conditions that diminish capacity can include dementia, addiction, disabilities and mental health issues. Persons without legal capacity may not fully understand what they are signing and the repercussions or are unable to communicate their wishes. Under professional liability laws, your loved one's estate planning attorney had a duty to determine if they lacked the capacity to sign. However, the lawyer may have breached this duty and the validity of the will may be able to be contested.
If you plan to challenge a will, expect to put time and money into the process. However, in the end, it can be worth it if your loved one's last wishes are at risk of not being followed.