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Common reasons for a will contest

Tennessee heirs will not always be satisfied with the mandates of a deceased relative's last will and testament. In some cases, heirs will suspect that foul play was involved, and the will does not reflect the decedent's true wishes. This could inspire them to contest the will.

Here are three of the most common bases for will contestation in this regard:

The will writer did not have "testamentary capacity": In order for a will to be valid, the person writing the will -- known as the testator -- must be of sound mental faculties and sound understanding about what he or she is agreeing to. As a litmus test in this regard, the testator must:

  • Understand the value of his or her assets.
  • Understand who is the logical person to receive those assets.
  • Understand the legal repercussions of drafting and signing a will.

Mental challenges like dementia or Alzheimer's disease could interfere with the testator's understanding of any of the three items above.

Undue influence: If the testator was influenced by others -- due to physical, mental, emotional or financial vulnerability -- to sign a particular will, it may be considered undue influence. If the influence is such that it interferes with the testator's free will, then the will might not be valid.

Fraud: A testator might be tricked into executing a will that he or she wouldn't have agreed to. Perhaps the testator is asked to sign an insurance document, but it's actually a new will. This will cannot be considered valid if it is revealed that the will was executed without the testator's knowledge.

If you believe that a will associated with your deceased loved one is invalid, you may want to invalidate the will in court. Alternatively, maybe you believe that the will is valid and you need to defend your inheritance rights against a challenge in court. Either way, a probate and estate administration lawyer will be of great assistance.

Source: thebalance.com, "What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?," Julie Garber, accessed Oct. 11, 2017

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