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3 legitimate reasons to challenge a will

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2018 | Probate Litigation

It can be very difficult to prevail when challenging a will, because the court begins with the presumption that the will expresses the deceased’s wishes. The will “speaks” for the deceased, and a strong legal argument is needed to get the court to go against what the will says.

In some situations, however, it is possible to challenge a will and win. In this post, we will look at three reasons to dispute the legitimacy of a will.

Inability to understand

When challenging a will on the basis of testamentary capacity, the challenger argues that the deceased did not have the ability to write a will that reflected his or her wishes.

Conditions that could cause a person to not have the mental wherewithal to write a will include:

  • Dementia
  • Insanity
  • Being under the influence of drugs

To successfully challenge a will based on lack of capacity, you must prove that the deceased did not understand the consequences of what he or she was doing when writing the will.

Undue influence

Undue influence means that a person lacks the ability to make decisions, because of the machinations of another person. You can challenge a will by showing that an individual manipulated the now-deceased into writing terms of the will. 

Another will exists

Wills and estates are built on written details. A good example of a critical detail is the date of a will. Dates become extremely important when a person has written more than one will in his or her lifetime.

The potential for problems exists when a will isn’t dated. If a will says it voids all previous wills, but the will is not dated, then a dispute could occur. When more than one will exists, the court likely will weigh the evidence and try to determine the deceased’s intent.

There are many gray areas with wills and estates. If you have questions, speak with an attorney who focuses on this area of the law.