Probate Law: Grounds For Contesting A Will

Posted on: 5 February 2015


A legal will provides individuals with the opportunity to have their wishes observed when distributing their estate after their death. Since the testator, the person who wrote the will, is no longer here to clarify their wishes, probate courts are typically quite reluctant to void a will. However, there are a few legal grounds that can be cited in order to successfully contest a will. If you believe that the will of a loved one is not legally enforceable based on one of the grounds outlined below, a qualified attorney can help you to petition the court to have the entire will or a portion of the will voided.

The Testator Was Not Competent At The Time The Will Was Written

Legal adults are automatically assumed competent to enter into a legal agreement, such as that formed by the writing of a will, unless evidence is presented to prove otherwise. For instance, if an individual suffers from mental illness, dementia, or senility at the time a will is written, you may be able to contest the will by presenting medical evidence proving this individual was not mentally competent.

In order to avoid this type of issue, most attorneys will perform a competency test before witnessing the signing of a will. If your loved one's will was drafting by a reputable attorney, you may find it quite difficult to contest the findings of this competency test.

The Will Is Fraudulent

If you believe the will that is presented to the court is not legitimate, you can contest the legality of the will by petitioning the court on the basis of fraud. Typically, the best way to prove your case when citing grounds is to simply prove the signature on the will is not that of the testator. This is done by submitting certified copies of their signature from recent and reliable sources, such as their signature card on file with their banking institution or their local Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Will Is Outdated

A person is only allowed to have one legally active will at any given time. Consequently, any time that a new will is signed, the previous will becomes null and void. If the will that is provided to the probate court is not the most recent version of your loved one's will, you can petition the court to void this will and enforce the more recent version.

When citing these grounds for contesting a will, be prepared to prove that the will you have in your possession was in fact signed after the document that was originally submitted to the court. You should also be prepared to demonstrate that the will you wish to be executed is legally binding, meaning that it bears your loved one's signature and that it was not written under duress.

For more information, contact Patricia L Riddick PLLC Atty or a similar legal professional.