What is a will? A will is basically a legal document stating the wishes of the testator with regards to the distribution of their assets upon their passing.
When a family member dies, chances are his or her assets will go to you as the surviving spouse or remaining child depending on what the will itself says. This means that you end up becoming the sole owner of the testator’s assets, such as a car, finances and real estate properties.
But what if for some reason those assets end up going to someone who you think doesn’t have any legal rights to them. Can you actually contest a will if something strikes you as suspicious or strange? What rights do you have in the event that something like this happens?
In the next section, we’ll learn more about what contesting a will entails and how the process goes. Here’s what you need to know about contesting a will:
The first thing to consider is the mental state of the testator or the person who wrote the will. He or she must have the testamentary capacity to make a will. In other words, he or she must be in the right frame of mind to prepare and draft a will. Typically, courts examine if the testator knows the following:
With all these in place, the court ensures the validity of the testator’s written will.
What, then, are the grounds to contest a particular will? In most cases, you can contest a will due to undue influence. Typically, you will assert that a sister, brother, caregiver, or another relative coerced the testator to prepare a will in their favor. That said, below are the standard factors that a judge will examine in cases of undue influence:
Should the will formalities have failed, you have grounds to contest a will. So you should check if any will formalities really were violated before contesting the will. In most cases, the common will requirements are as follows:
On the other side of the spectrum, there may be reasons why you can’t contest a will. It’s better to be aware of these reasons before you take the plunge in order to save time and effort. So what are the circumstances under which you can’t contest a will? They are as follows:
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