Contesting the Validity of a Will

If someone brings an action to contest a will, he or she is claiming that, for one reason or another, the will is invalid and should not be used in the administration of the estate of a deceased person. You can probably imagine that this will frequently happen if someone such as a family member expected to receive a sizeable amount of money or property and found out that this was not the case after the will came to light. Challenges to the validity of a will can be costly and time consuming, but the person bringing the will contest claim may see it as worth the cost and effort if he or she believes to be entitled to a substantial inheritance.

What Can Invalidated a Will?

If successfully proven, several grounds will work to invalidated a will, including:

  • Duress: If a will was obtained through threat of harm, it will be invalid. Additionally, if the will was obtained through fraud or coercion, it will be invalid. Undue pressure on a person to create a will a certain way can invalidate the will. This is difficult to prove, especially years after a will was created, but it can be done. If a person in a position of power over the deceased individual received a surprisingly large inheritance and someone else expected to receive the large inheritance was left out, this will raise suspicion of duress. There still needs to be more evidence presented, however, for the court to rule the will invalid.
  • Lack of mental capacity: At the time of the will’s creation, the testator needs to be of sound mind. This means that the will may be invalidated if it is proven that he or she was intoxicated at the time of the will creation or that he or she suffered from some mental disorder or temporary insanity. The testator must have been able to fully comprehend what he or she was doing. The testator must have been of sound mind.
  • Will execution: Every state has specific formalities that must be observed in the creation of a will. Failure to observe these formalities can later lead to the will being invalidated. For example, there must be the proper number of witnesses when a will is executed. If the will was not notarized, this could also lead to it being held invalid.

What Happens If a Will is Invalidated?

If a court holds a will to be invalid, the estate will most likely be handled as if the deceased had died without any will at all. This means that the probate court will follow the state rules of intestacy in distributing the contents of the estate. Generally speaking, intestacy laws distribute the property of the estate to the closest living relatives of the deceased. If there is no immediate surviving family, more distant relatives stand to inherit the property of the estate. If no living relatives can be found, the property of the estate will pass to the state.

In some cases, there might be a previous will that was revoked by the will found to be invalid. If the previous will was revoked because of the existence of the will that was found to be invalid, the court may choose to revive the former will.

Probate Administration Counsel You Can Count On

Claims contesting the validity of the will are just some examples of bumps in the road to probate administration. PALUMBO LAW have the knowledge and experience to help you and your family navigate these difficult a