Image of a will in an envelope representing the process of challenging a will.

Challenging a Will: How It Works

The last will and testament is a binding document in which the deceased distributes their estate among their heirs. Sometimes, however, this distribution is conducted in such a way that people feel left out or not fairly compensated. In these circumstances, those who feel they have been wronged may challenge the will.

A will can only be challenged by certain people under certain circumstances. These circumstances are generally as follows:

  • A More Recent Will Exists

If there is a newer will than the one being used to distribute the deceased’s estate, then there may be grounds to contest the distribution in favor of using the most recent will. 

  • Fraud or Forgery

If the deceased was tricked into signing a different will, or their signature was forged on a will they did not write, then the will may be invalid and unusable for the distribution of the estate.

  • Lack of Sound Mind

If the deceased was not mentally able to make a will, they may be declared to be of unsound mind. A person of sound mind has to be able to understand what they own, the value of their possessions, their natural heirs, what is being given, and who is receiving the things being given.

  • State Requirements Are Unfulfilled

Each state has its own laws about what a will must contain and how it must be written. This can range from the number of witnesses present to the acceptability of handwritten wills. The will must obey all the laws of the state the testator was a resident of. If the will does not meet the necessary requirements, it may be declared invalid.

  • Undue Influence

If the deceased created the will under duress, either physical, emotional, or financial, then a judge may declare that they were under undue influence and therefore did not create a valid will.

While these circumstances are the most common for challenging a will, actual arguments may vary and it is recommended that before challenging a will in probate court, a trust & estate attorney should be consulted.

If you are looking to challenge the outcome of a will, you will need an experienced trust & estate attorney. A trust & estate attorney can help you enter your challenge in the appropriate venue, present your strongest case, and advocate on your behalf. The best place to find a trust & estate attorney is at Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with an experienced trust & estate attorney in your area. Our partners have the resources, legal expertise, and experience necessary to unravel even the most complex trust & estate cases. 

In addition to resources and experience, our partners also excel in client care. Our partners understand that at the core of a trust & estate case is the loss of life and the desire to see the estate distributed in a way that honors the deceased.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a free, no-obligation consultation and secure your future.

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