5 Reasons Why a Will Can Be Contested
When someone does draft a will, they may slap something together hastily at the last minute. Or they may write a will and let it sit for years, causing it to become obsolete by the passage of time and evolution of the family. These situations and more open the door to legal challenges to a will. Here are 5 reasons why a will can be challenged.
Questions of Competence
Your will is not valid if you’re not considered mentally competent to understand the import of what you’re doing. This is universally understood if an 8-year-old tries to draft a will. An 80-year-old with dementia may be able to write a will, but their heirs can challenge it on the basis of mental competence as well. Someone who is on psychiatric medication may be considered incompetent regardless of age, as is someone who is recovering from a brain injury or were intoxicated. If your family thinks you drafted a will while suffering the after-effects of medication after surgery, they can argue that the new will leaving it all to your doctor or best friend isn’t valid. Contact a wills and probate solicitor firm like Spencer Solicitors who’ve been in the business for 40+ years if you’re concerned that a will was signed when someone was not mentally competent to understand what they were doing.
Questions of Influence
Someone may be mentally competent but unduly influenced in writing the will. Someone in a nursing home for instance may feel pressured to sign a will leaving their property to a caregiver simply to ensure that they continue receiving care. You can also challenge a will if someone was set up to make a mistake.
History is filled with people who forged wills to say that the assets go to them. Altered wills have popped up in legal cases as well. If there are concerns that the will is fraudulent, whether an altered original or completely fake document, then the will can be contested.
A will can be contested if it isn’t executed per legal requirements. And part of this is following the rules, such as not having someone sign off as a witness before the person drafting the will signs it. After all, part of the reason for having a witness is so that they could be called in court to confirm that the person signing the will did so without duress and while of sound mind. Witnesses not legally allowed to be witnesses are another basis for challenging a will, such as when witnesses were too closely related to the deceased or their own competence is questioned.
You can challenge a will if you were promised specific property by the deceased. You can challenge a will if the deceased owed you money. In some cases, you may have provided care to someone based on the promise of payment from their estate. These are claims against the estate that should be mediated with the aid of a solicitor.
Wills can be challenged based on many factors, and you need to understand these factors if you intend to challenge a will or don’t want your will challenged.