If your loved one recently died, and you feel that the will on file was not an accurate reflection of his or her wishes, you might want to investigate whether the document is legally valid. There are a number of circumstances in which a will can be challenged. If you're planning to challenge or defend a will, or if you're currently drafting a new will, you might want to familiarize yourself with the circumstances under which a will may be contested in court.
Here are some common scenarios that lead to will contestations:
-- The creator of the will was not of sound mind or mental capacity at the time the will was drafted and signed.
-- Someone was asserting undue influence, like overt persuasion, coercion, duress or force, over the testator of the will, causing him or her to agree to terms that he or she did not want.
-- The testator of the will was insane or deluded in the sense that he or she strongly held fixed or false beliefs that were not founded in reality.
-- The testator was under the threat of physical harm, referred to as "duress" at the time of the will drafting.
-- The testator was defrauded or lied to when the will was drafted.
-- The will document was technically flawed due to the violation of a legal formality.
-- The will was forged. Perhaps the will was signed by someone other than the testator. Or, part or all of the document was fabricated.
As you can see, there are a number of circumstances in which a will could be contested. At the law office of Mary C. Lagrone, our estate planning team is available to speak to you about your or a loved one's will to determine if it is legally viable.