Saturday, May 21, 2022

Four Reasons You Need to Contest a Will

Your will reflects your wishes on how you want your estate to be divided or inherited by the beneficiaries or heirs. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not impossible to change a will. 

A testator (a person who makes the will) may expect their wishes to be carried out verbatim after their death, but there are certain conditions, that if come to pass, can alter the will’s immutability. These conditions and reasons then become grounds for contesting a will by the heirs, beneficiaries, or non-beneficiaries of the will. 

You should be clear on why is it that you’re contesting a will, if you suspect the will wasn’t written under ideal circumstances. 

If you are the one who has been left out of the will, you need to rise up to the challenge and contest the contents of the will. To help you go about contesting a will, you need to know the reasons you can build your case on. 

Simply put, when a will is contested, it means someone with stakes riding on the contents of the will does not agree with the terms put forth in it and wants to challenge the validity of the document.

In fact, those who have been left out of the will can decide to contest the will and ask for their share of money or assets. Sometimes, when the will has been drawn the testator forgets to revise the contents after major life events come to pass, which is a mistake. With services like the Will online you can easily go online and revise your plan after every major life event. 

So, without further ado, let’s now look at some of the reasons you should contest a will: 

Fraudulent terms

The most common reason for why you should be contesting a will is that it may contain fraudulent terms. The qualifications for fraud may include forced signatures, unsound mental capacities of the testator at the time of signing the will, competence, and underage. 

In case of fraudulent terms, the court may rule in favor of a previous version of the will, if present. Otherwise, the estate will be distributed through an intestate succession (in which the state decides).

The will is also deemed fraudulent if the person making out the will wasn’t in full control of his mental faculties. The entire document is considered void in such a case. 

Conditions for such a case could occur if the testator suffered from dementia or Alzheimer’s when he was drawing up the document. If a person is not of sound mind, their consent is not legally binding and the will is considered null and void.

Each state has its own laws about how wills must be created and signed in order for them to be valid. Typically, there must be at least two witnesses at the signing of the will, and they should also put their own names on the document as witnesses. 

Duress

In this case, the testator may have been pressured into signing the will. For example, if the testator’s caregiver made them sign a will that leaves money and property for the caregiver, there may be a little ground for suspicion. 

The testator might have been put under duress into signing the will. If someone is pressured or forced into signing a will, the contents of which may not represent their wishes, then this makes the document invalid. 

Conditions for this can come about when the testator is threatened with physical, financial, or any kind of harm that forces their hand into signing their name onto a will that they themselves couldn’t have consented to. 

On mental capacity grounds

The testator might have signed their name onto the will in a hardly functional mental state. Contesting on the basis of disproving sanity requires checking medical records. At the same time, you should also consult the testator’s loved ones in order to get a good account of the testator’s mental capacities. 

Following which, and if the evidence points to a lack of sanity, the testator may be considered incompetent. Someone who is not mentally competent cannot legally create a valid will. This means that if someone was suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and did not have an earlier valid will, then their estate would be distributed according to state law rather than according to what may have been their wishes.

Failing to update a will after a major life event

Not updating your will after any major life event presents good grounds for contesting a will, and it is the reason that eludes many people who draw up wills and don’t revise them. A will should be updated every time new important events occur, such as marriages, divorces, the addition or subtraction of heirs through birth and disowning, respectively. Such a will may be contested in a court of law on the grounds of not being up to date or that its contents are obsolete. 

Conclusion

A will is not immutable. There are grounds on which it could be contested. These grounds present opportunities for heirs or beneficiaries to either declare the will null and void, or to create room for changing the unfavorable terms. The most common of the reasons you can use to contest a will are: failing to update the will after major life events, competence, duress, and fraud.