There are many wills that go through the probate process without any disruption. The estate’s debts are paid, the beneficiaries receive the property designated for them in the will and the estate is closed. However, there are situations where a person may decide to contest the will.
Generally, a person is not able to contest a will simply because he or she is not satisfied with what the deceased person left to the beneficiaries.
Will format and testamentary capacity
The will must be in writing, signed and witnessed properly in order for it to be effective. If it is not completed correctly, the will may be contested. This is one of the most common ways a will can be found invalid.
Also, the person who creates the will, called the testator, must understand the nature and value of his or her property, who should inherit the assets and the effect of signing the will. If a witness can testify that the testator lacked capacity to make the will, that may also cause the will to be found invalid.
Undue influence and fraud
If the testator was unduly influenced, pressured or put under duress in order to complete the will, that may invalidate the will. If the testator was isolated from family or friends, suffered from abuse or other similar behavior, that may be evidence of undue influence.
Fraud occurs when the testator was tricked into signing the will. For example, the testator may be presented with a will and told that it is a power of attorney or a deed and signs it.
If the court finds that the will is invalid in whole, the proceedings may go forward as if the testator never had a will at all. An experienced estate planning attorney can answer questions and provide advice.