02 May Common reasons that wills are contested and how to remedy them
The last will and testament is your final word on the division of your estate between family and other parties you have outlined. Naturally, the will can be a hotly contested issue after you pass away and may even be legally challenged by someone with an interest in it.
During the probate process, the will may be challenged and it is best to understand why this might happen so that the estate plan can be changed accordingly. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons a will is disputed and how to avoid them.
Another will exists
It is not uncommon that many people go through several different drafts of their will before they pass away. This can cause confusion during the probate process if there is no clear indication of which will the deceased intended to be used.
The best way to avoid this confusion is to make sure all wills are dated and that there is a clause saying the most recent will trumps all previous ones.
Known as ‘lack of testamentary capacity’ this challenge implies that the deceased did not have the mental capacity to understand why they were writing in their will. A will is only legal if the deceased had testamentary capacity at the time of signing.
Diseases that affect elderly people like dementia or Alzheimer’s can be cause for testamentary capacity to be contested. Avoid this by making sure to write your will while you are still healthy and mentally proficient.
In some cases a will is contested because a party has reason to believe that the testator was manipulated by another party to write their will a certain way. It is normally very difficult to prove this challenge however.
The best way to avoid this complication is to only discuss your will with an estate lawyer or spouse and give no chance for others to influence your decisions.
The will lacks witnesses and other details
All wills must be signed with witnesses present. The will must also have written elements that outline who will receive property and assets after your death.
This is why it is important to make sure that the will is thoroughly prepared with an estate lawyer so that there is no room for speculation about your final wishes. This is why you always require the expertise of an estate planner when preparing a last will and testament.