When creating an estate plan, you should think about the steps you can take to help prevent a will contest in the future. You assume that this will never happen, but it’s hard to say if someone will become so upset that they take this legal action.
While challenging a will and winning is a difficult task, it’s still something that should concern you. Even if the person isn’t successful, it will still slow down the probate process, which puts your beneficiaries at a disadvantage.
Here are some of the most common reasons for someone to challenge a will:
- Testamentary capacity: Generally, this comes into play when someone believes that a person created a will when they didn’t have the mental capacity to do so, such as the result of insanity, dementia or illicit drugs.
- Fraud or forgery: This is exactly what it sounds like. Someone commits fraud or forgery to benefit upon another individual’s death.
- Undue influence: A common argument among people contesting a will, this states that the person was under undue influence, which is the same as saying that they didn’t have the free will to do as they pleased.
- More than one will: If there’s more than one will, questions can arise about which one is valid. Generally, the provisions of the most recent will are taken into consideration, as long as everything checks out from a legal perspective.
- No witnesses: In the state of California, a will must contain the signatures of two individuals. Furthermore, the individuals should not be people who are named as beneficiaries in the will.
Maybe you’re creating a will and have concerns about someone challenging it upon your death. Or maybe you’re the executor of a will and have come to find that someone, such as a displeased relative, is making it difficult to proceed with the probate process, as the result of a will contest.
As the executor of a will, it’s your responsibility to manage the entire probate process from start to finish. Understanding the finer details associated with a will contest can help you deal with anything that comes your way.