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What are the specific grounds for contesting a will?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2021 | Trust, Estate Planning, and Probate |

When a person dies, his or her last will and testament helps survivors to determine what to do with the deceased person’s belongings. In some cases, survivors may not agree with what was written in the deceased person’s will. New York and other states provide residents with four legal reasons that they may contest a will.

The will wasn’t signed correctly

Estate planning and probate have very specific laws regarding the drafting and signing of a person’s last will and testament. Many states require that the testator, the person signing the will, do so in the presence of at least two different witnesses. You’ll want to verify what the specific laws are in your state to see whether the circumstances regarding the testator’s signature were invalid.

No testamentary capacity

When a person signs his or her last will and testament, that individual must be in the right capacity to do so. The law refers to this as testamentary capacity, and it’s defined as fully understanding the legal impact of your will. In the event that a person signed his or her will and lacked testamentary capacity at the time, the will could be invalidated.

Unduly influence occurred

As people age, they typically become weaker both physically and mentally. For this reason, the elderly are more susceptible to influence from those around them. In the event that an alleged influencer exerted extreme pressure on the testator, a will may be deemed invalid.

Procured by fraud

This last legal reason to contest a will involves the testator being tricked into signing the will. In this event, the testator may have been told that he or she was signing a deed or power of attorney document when it was actually a will that was drafted by another person for his or her own financial gain.

Contesting a will is considered difficult to do. However, if you do believe that a will should be invalidated, you’ll need to prove one of the four legal reasons above. To do so, it’s highly advisable to contact an attorney.