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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

Can I contest a will?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2022 | Estate Litigation |

The court divides a deceased person’s property and assets through a process called probate. The court will follow the wishes of the decedent if that person left a will, but sometimes this process can unveil unpleasant surprises.

If you believe a will is invalid, you can contest it, but you need to meet two standards: legal grounds and personal interest.

What are the legal grounds to dispute a will?

While there are many legal grounds on which you may dispute a will, the most common are:

  • Undue influence: A party close to the testator exerts undue pressure on him or her to sign without free will
  • Duress: The testator feels coerced into signing a will they did not want to sign
  • Revocation: A will written subsequent to another revokes any earlier versions
  • Mistake: The will is not representative of the deceased’s wishes due to a mistake of fact
  • Incapacitation: At the time of execution, the testator did not have the mental capacity to enter into a contract
  • Fraud: The decedent based decisions on intentional or negligent misrepresentation of fact

Additionally, you can dispute a will if it was not properly executed. This often occurs when the document is not properly signed or witnessed.

What is personal interest in the will?

To have a personal interest, your case must satisfy one of two conditions:

  • You are a person named in the will
  • You are not named as a beneficiary but would benefit if a judge deems the will invalid

If you feel that you meet both the legal grounds to dispute a will and have a personal interest, you may need to act quickly. Missing essential deadlines could prevent you from contesting the will.