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Bases for contesting a will

When a family member or loved one passes away, they aren't around to let their wishes be known, so courts generally take the person's will to be the final word regarding their desires. For this reason, most wills go through probate without problems. However, there are times when a person can contest a will.

Challenging a will can be done on a number of grounds:

  • Undue influence. Most often than not, a challenge is brought forth when a spouse or heir believes that the deceased was unduly influenced by another party. For instance, the testator (the person who made the will) was coerced or forced to change the will or write it in a particular way.
  • Testamentary capacity. Another common reason is that the testator didn't have what's referred to as "testamentary capacity." This means that he or she was mentally incapable of making sound decisions at the time the will was drafted. This could be because of insanity, drugs, dementia or mental deficiencies.
  • Witnesses. Most states require two witnesses who are not named as heirs to be present at the signing of the will. If this requirement isn't met, the will could be voided.
  • An old will. Oftentimes, testators will make amendments or completely redo a will over time. If the executor of the will is using an outdated copy, this could be grounds for a challenge.

If you feel that a loved one's will is somehow invalid, you may want to consult with an attorney. He or she can investigate your case and may be able to help you contest it.

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