Wills are one of the most common instruments people use to indicate how they wish their property to be distributed when they pass away. In this post we answer the question “Can a Will be Contested?” and offer some useful information i
Can a Will Be Contested?
The short answer is yes, any will can be contested. However, that doesn’t mean that it always makes sense to contest a will. As we’ll see below, there are essentially four reasons to challenge a will.
1. The Testamentary Capacity Is in Question
Simply put, this means that the testator (the person making the will) lacks the mental capacity to understand the legal implications of signing a will. California law offers a set of definitions to determine the cases when a person is not considered mentally competent to make a will. You can check the full text here.
2. There Is Suspicion of Undue Influence
As they grow old, people become more vulnerable to pressure, threats, and coercion. Undue influence often comes from a beneficiary of the will who lives with the testator or has direct access to them. A will signed under this type of duress is considered invalid. However, undue influence can be hard to prove in court.
3. The Will Was Not Signed Properly
Each state has specific requirements about how a will must be signed. For example, in California, wills have to be signed by the testator and two uninterested witnesses. Here, “uninterested” means that neither of the witnesses should be beneficiaries of the will. If a will wasn’t signed according to the strict rules set out by state law, there may be grounds to challenge it.
4. The Testator Was Fraudulently Induced Into Creating the Will
In some cases, a testator may be tricked into signing a will by presenting them the document and telling them they are signing something else, like a power of attorney, for example. Needless to say, a will signed under these conditions is considered invalid, although proving that a will was procured by fraud can be difficult since the main witness of the fraud (the testor) has usually passed away when the will is contested.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there are many situations where a will can be contested. Each scenario presents challenges that must be assessed carefully before deciding if it makes sense to contest a will.
If you need assistance with any matter related to wills or estate planning, get in touch with the EBL Law Group, our experts will be happy to offer the knowledgeable guidance you need.
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