Can a will be contested?

last-willIn life, we find that things can be unfair—even among family.

As an estate planning attorney, I see this sometimes happen after a person’s family member has passed away. As the wishes of the will are carried out, a child, spouse, or grandchild may feel unfairly treated.

In this circumstance, that person may contest the will. There are requirements to contest a will after the author’s death.

To contest a will after the author’s death, a person must establish one of the following:

  • Undue influence. This is very tough to prove, but the idea is that the deceased person was heavily pressured by someone to change the will.
  • Fraud. This is also difficult to prove. Basically, this means that the will’s author was tricked into signing a will, believing it was some other document (such as a deed).
  • Improper execution. If the will was not prepared or executed properly under the laws of the state in which it was created, it could be thrown out in court later.
  • Lack of capacity. If the will’s author wasn’t mentally capable of making such choices at the time the document was created, it could be declared invalid.

When preparing your will, you should be mindful of the possibility that it may be contested. By seeking the help and guidance of an estate planning attorney, you can make sure that your will is executed properly and ensure that none of the above legal grounds for revision apply to your document.  There are even ways to validate your will BEFORE your death so that there can be no contesting it after you pass.

If you have any questions on estate planning, feel free to contact an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance.