4 Reasons to Contest a Will

Contesting a Will is not as simple as most people believe. You cannot challenge a Will solely because you do not agree with its terms. There are certain legal elements that must be established first, and proving each one of them is not a walk in the park. The process involves a large expenditure, from expert fees to attorney’s fees to the court fees. However, if you can prove that at least one of these elements exist, then a Will can be overturned. 

1. Relevant State Laws Were Not Followed When Signing the Will

There are certain laws that must be followed when signing a Will. For example, the person who is leaving the Will (known as the testator) must sign the Will in the presence of two or more witnesses. The witnesses should be in the same room as the testator and must sign the Will as well. 

You would think that a Will executed in the office of an estate lawyer would follow the right legal procedures, but that is not always the case. In fact, failure to follow the necessary state laws is the most common reason for invalidating a Will.

2. Lack of Testamentary Capacity 

The testator should understand the value and nature of his or her assets, as well as the natural objects of those assets. That is, who should inherit the assets – logically speaking, bearing in mind the legal implications of signing a Will. 

The testator must meet a certain threshold for the disputant to prove that they lacked testamentary capacity. However, the condition must be extremely severe for the case to hold up in court. For example, there have been instances where the testator was shown to have dementia but the court ruled that they had the testamentary capacity to sign the Will. In cases like this, the testimony of the witnesses present when signing the will becomes crucial to the outcome of the contest.

3. Undue Influence on the Testator

As people age, they become physically and mentally weaker, making them more vulnerable to other people’s influence. In order to prove undue influence when contesting a Will, you need to show that the alleged influencer exerted so much pressure on the testator that it caused him or her to lose their free will. This does not mean simple threats, nagging, or verbal abuse. You have to consult with the testator’s lawyer regarding payment for the Will, provisions of the Will, and how the influencer isolated the testator from his/her family and friends.

4. Fraudulent Procurement of the Will

When a Will is procured by fraud, it means that the testator was tricked into signing the document. This can be done by, for instance, presenting the testator with a document that is alleged to be a title deed, which ultimately turns out to be, in fact, a Will. In this case, the Will is said to be procured by fraud. The quandary is that the testator cannot be questioned about the document he/she thought they were signing. However, the witnesses must be questioned about what they themselves thought was being signed. If their testimony does not add up, then the Will could be invalidated. 

While a Will is not a complicated process, certain legal elements must be maintained to make the document valid. If you need an experienced attorney to help you with your estate planning, the Amsberry Law Firm has you covered. Call us today at (210) 354-2244.

Written by Amsberry Law Firm

Amsberry Law Firm

Mr. Amsberry is board-certified in family and labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. He is also active in family law, estate and elder law, and business law. He is a proven litigator who has argued before the United States 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and earned favorable outcomes in complex, precedent-setting employment and civil rights cases. He served as a reservist assistant judge advocate general in the U.S. Army and is a sought-after lecturer and speaker on a range of legal issues.