Many people use wills to specify how they want their assets distributed when they pass away. Most wills pass through probate with no problems, but there are times when a would-be beneficiary feels the need to challenge the will. Here are some of the more common reasons people may choose to challenge the validity of a will.
The testator did not have testamentary capacity
Only adults over the age of 18 can legally create a will. There are exceptions to this rule, such as if a person under 18 gets married and other special cases. However, litigation regarding a last will can still occur if the beneficiaries or loved ones of the testator do not feel the person had the mental capacity to make important decisions regarding their assets and create a will in the first place. A lot of times, this can be due to the testator having dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other mental issues.
Forgery, fraud and undue influence
Sometimes, people may rely on others for assistance with important matters, such as taking care of themselves, administering their financial matters and more. Unfortunately, some caregivers and fiduciaries will use their positions to unduly influence the testator to update his or her will to include the caregiver as a beneficiary. Other times, unscrupulous fiduciaries and caregivers may forge their ward’s name and signature on a will to achieve the same purpose. Concerned family members and heirs may choose to challenge the validity of the will in court because of perceived fraud, undue influence or forgery.
People can update their wills at any time during their lives. There are many reasons why a testator may change his or her will to either include or exclude certain beneficiaries. The courts will always honor the latest version of a will. This is why it is so important to ensure a testator dates the will properly and has at least two witnesses on hand during the signing.
Challenging a will can occur for any number of reasons. If a beneficiary or concerned family member feels the need to challenge a will, he or she will want to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer will investigate the matter and advocate for his or her client throughout the process.