Last Will and Testament concept image complete with spectacles and pen.

5 Reasons A Last Will May Be Contested

A last will is a document that ensures that your assets and property are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. Some people draft wills or trusts to ensure that the loved ones they will eventually leave behind own a piece of the properties the former will be leaving behind in case of their death.

This document can also be an essential part of estate planning, but it is not uncommon for disputes over the validity or content of the last will. There are many reasons people may contest this, and here are five of the most common reasons why.

  1. Undue Influence

One can contest a will if a potential beneficiary can prove that the will-maker was unduly influenced by another person, which resulted in the testator changing the document and disinheriting a family member. Undue influence means that the will-maker’s decision was substantially affected by another person interested in the outcome of the will.

A will could be invalidated even if there is no evidence of fraud; any suspicion that the will-maker wasn’t acting under their own free will is enough to contest it. Some people are more vulnerable to undue influence than others; they may be easily manipulated or suffer from dementia or mental illness.

Suppose you suspect that someone is trying to manipulate your loved one into disinheriting you from their will. In that case, you can fight back by filing a lawsuit against the other person for undue influence with the help of Will Dispute Lawyers.

Woman Helping Senior Man To Complete Last Will And Testament At Home
  1. Fraud or Forgery

When someone commits fraud or forgery to create a will, that is a legitimate reason for the document to be contested. Some people tend to assume that if there is a will, then it’s the real deal, and they often don’t bother to look beyond the surface of the document. 

In some cases, however, some signs can indicate fraud or forgery in a will. Suppose there are erasures or differences in handwriting or signature style between documents signed on different dates. In that case, these can be clues indicating something was amiss with the creation of a will. 

In these situations, it is essential to consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and can help determine whether or not it involved fraud or forgery.

  1. Lack Of Witnesses 

The testator needs to sign a will with two witnesses present. The witnesses, too, must sign the will in front of the testator. If a will is contested and evidenced that it was signed incorrectly, it may be considered invalid. For example, if a witness also receives an inheritance, that person cannot be a witness to the signing of the will. 

Suppose one witness was present when the testator was unable to sign due to illness or mental disability, and at least one other witness was present to see the signing. It could make it more challenging for someone to contest whether or not the will is valid.

  1. Mistaken Identity 

Mistaken identity is another reason why the last will may be contested. It can happen if the deceased person has a common name and more than one person with that name in the area. It may also occur if the person’s handwriting is difficult to read or if someone forged their signature, or if someone forged the notary’s signature.

This legal issue could confuse potential heirs or beneficiaries listed in the will and anyone who contests it. A lawyer can help ensure that all signatures are valid and that the document is written so that it cannot be challenged, thus protecting your wishes after you have passed away.

  1. Testamentary Capacity 

Testamentary capacity is a legal term used to describe the mental ability required for an individual to make a valid will. A person has testamentary capacity when they have sufficient cognitive ability at the time of executing it to understand the nature and extent of their property and to know and remember the identity of those who would be considered natural objects of their bounty.

A person need not have perfect mental health to have testamentary capacity. Individuals with mild cognitive impairments such as depression are often still able to make wills.

Testamentary capacity is generally proven by family members and friends who can testify about their observations of the will-maker. However, a medical opinion may also be helpful if there is doubt regarding whether a person had testamentary capacity when they made their will. 

Takeaway 

These are just a few reasons why a will may be contested. It can be a lengthy and expensive process because you need to navigate through the legal procedures of your state. If you have questions about creating or contesting a will, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you protect your financial future.

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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