If you are in a situation where a loved one’s will has the potential to affect your life, it’s important to understand the applicable legal ramifications. Many people consider filing a legal contestation to a will if the outcome is different than expected. However, contesting a will is a serious legal step that can cost a significant amount of time and money. If you are thinking of contesting a will, you must first understand the legal requirements you must meet to prove the will and the signature of the testator invalid.
While the legal definition of fraud can be fairly broad, in relation to contesting a will it means the testator was deceived in some way during the creation and signing of the will. In most cases of fraud, the contestant must prove that an interested party knowingly and purposely deceived the testator, either by misrepresenting material facts or by telling the testator he or she was signing something other than a will.
Testator Lacked Testamentary Capacity
Another possibility for contesting a will is proving that the testator lacked the capacity to create and sign a will. The most common testamentary challenge is based on the claim that the testator didn’t have the required mental acuity to understand all the relevant issues when he or she wrote the will. These situations usually involve some sort of medical issue, such as a mental health disease.
You may successfully contest a will if you can legally prove it was created and/or signed through undue influence by an interested party. Essentially, this means that someone who stood to gain from the will took advantage of the testator’s physical or mental weakness to exert pressure that resulted in the testator yielding to the desires of the influencer under duress. In many cases, it is difficult to prove undue influence.
Outside Legal Requirements for Signing
The laws that govern legal creation and signing of wills are unique to every country and sometimes individual states. To be valid, a will must be signed in accordance with the applicable laws. Whether you are creating or contesting a will, it’s essential to get legal counsel from attorneys who are knowledgeable of the related legal requirements. Since most attorneys specialise in different areas of law, you can hire someone who focuses on wills and estates.
Contesting a will can be a long and expensive legal process that doesn’t always work. However, if you believe a loved one’s will was not created under legal circumstances, hiring a qualified attorney who specializes in wills and estates can give you the best chance of success.