While the vast majority of Wills are carefully prepared and valid, some Wills are quickly drafted and prepared with forms that may not meet your needs. There are several reasons that a Will can be contested in a court of law.
A person who contests a Will is essentially questioning its legal validity. Individuals contest Wills for a many reasons, some which will prevail in court, some not.
Trying to decide if you should contest a Will? Well then, you're in the right place for expert advice. Why might you contest a Will? Let's review some basics.
You Believe That the Will is Fraudulent or was Procured through Undue Influence
A frequent reason that you might contest a Will is that you believe it's fraudulent. Fraud typically occurs when a beneficiary of the Will gives the testator (Will writer) false information, leading the testator to change his or her Will to reward the beneficiary.
Another reason that you might contest a will is that it was procured through undue influence, by a caregiver or family member taking unfair advantage of the close relationship they may have with the maker of the will, and causes the will maker to change to whom they would otherwise give their property.
Such wills reward the untruthful or bad-acting beneficiary with more money than other beneficiaries in the estate. Proving the circumstances that can set aside a will procured by undue influence or fraud is difficult, and you should have your case carefully evaluated before proceeding.
More Than One Will Exists
In some cases, there will be more than one Will existing for one testator. When this occurs, the most recently drafted will is typically considered to be the legitimate one. There are few exceptions to this.
However, you must also be able to prove that a specific Will is, in fact, the most recent one. This can be difficult to do if the Will was not created correctly in the presence of witnesses and a notary.
When a testator has drafted two Wills, it is wise to consult a probate attorney to help understand your options.
The Will Was Drafted by a Minor
Another reason to contest a Will is if it was drawn up by a minor. A minor is regarded as anyone who is under the age of 18. In the United States, with very few exceptions, minors are not legally allowed to draw up Wills.
Most minors' estates are controlled by their legal guardians, named by a court. In most cases, it won't even be necessary to contest a Will drawn up by a minor. However, there are rare cases in which these Wills are not dismissed by the courts.
The Will's Legal Language is nonstandard or confusing.
When a Will is drawn up, it's important that it's written in correct and easily interpreted legal language. Failure to use approved legal language when writing a Will can result in it being read in multiple different ways. If a Will's legal language is vague or confusing, its meaning can be contested.
Sometimes, imperfect legal language can legitimately result in a will being read incorrectly. If you believe a will is being read incorrectly and assets are being passed down to the wrong beneficiaries, you should consider contesting it.
No One Witnessed the Signing of the Will
Another reason to contest a Will is if it was signed and created without a witness present. This is often the case when a person makes a do-it-yourself Will. For this reason, DIY Wills are typically not considered to be valid.
However, there are occasions in which courts accept these types of Wills. If you believe that a DIY Will is not reasonable and should be considered invalid, you could very well contest it in court.
Seeking a Probate Attorney to Help You Contest a Will?
Are you seeking out a probate attorney to help you contest a Will? Do you live in or near the Park Ridge area? If so, the experts here at John J. Pembroke & Associates are the people to see.
Our team of attorneys is very experienced in dealing with estates, and has helped a variety of clients to contest Wills. It would be our honor to help you through the process.
To discuss your specific situation, contact us today!