When you lose someone you love, it will doubtlessly be a difficult and trying time for you and your family to get through. One of the saddest parts of such a loss is that individuals can suddenly become focused on personal gain when it comes to the issue of the will, especially when the will was either written or amended when the person you have lost was potentially not of sound mind and body.
In this situation, you need to know what the grounds are for contesting this document so that you can make sure that the wishes of your lost loved one are carried out as they would have wanted and not taken advantage of.
Understanding the reasons for contesting
When you look up how to contest a will, you will most likely be bombarded with legal jargon that can easily confuse you if you yourself are not from a professional legal background. In the face of this, it can feel like giving up is easier than trying to navigate the law around the leaving on wills, but you must press on in order to get justice for your loved one.
To help you out, this article has broken down what some of the grounds for contesting a will are in simple terms, as follows:
- Testamentary Capacity
Testamentary capacity refers to when the individual in question made the will and whether or not they a.) understood they were making a will and the effect of that will, b.) know the value of their estate, c.) understand the consequences of leaving someone out/including someone in their will. This last point is especially important because, if your loved one is a family member who would have wanted to leave money to support your family but, in their last days, did not, they would not have been of the sound mind to understand that you were relying on that support to get by.
- Lack of valid execution
This refers to the legality of a will surrounding it being signed. A will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses and signed by the testator themselves (the person leaving the will). If you have reason to believe this is not the case, then you have grounds to contest the legality of the will.
- Undue influence
This is something that is potentially hard to contest on because it requires hard evidence. However, it is not impossible and does happen. Undue influence is when your loved one has been coerced in some way, either through kindness or threat, to make amendments to their will which they would not have done should this influence had not been present. Chances of contesting a will, in this case, will depend on the evidence you have, and the circumstances of each individual situation.
- Fraudulent or Forged wills
Fraudulent wills can occur in a number of circumstances. For example, if someone wrote the will on behalf of your deceased loved one and decided to write themselves into it, this would be fraud. Alternatively, if someone spoke to the deceased as they wrote the will and persuaded them to leave someone out or write themselves in, this too would be fraud and make the will invalid when contested.