When Can A Will Be Properly Contested?

By | December 27, 2011

Contesting a will can be a difficult decision – and it can have difficult consequences. Problems from inheritance have plagued mankind for millennia, and even in modern times, there are never any easy solutions for everyone. At some point, if a will is being contested, someone is going to end up unhappy.

But it’s important to understand when a will can even be properly contested. If you’re someone who wants to contest a will, you need to know you have the legal grounds to do so. If you’re someone who wants to protect their inheritance from contest, you’ll want to know your legal grounds for keeping things as they were.

Essentially everyone involved with the contesting of a will needs to read this article. Let’s take a look at when a will can actually be contested.

Improper Signatures

One of the ways a will can be contested on legal grounds is that the will was not signed in accordance with the state laws governing the signature of last wills and testaments. While other people might have a moral problem with this approach – after all, an improper signature does not mean the deceased did not want the will to go through as written – a bad signature can indeed be legal grounds for contesting a will.

What constitutes an improper signature? It depends on the local laws. In some states, for example, it will be required to have a witness watch the will being signed – without this witness, the signature is of debatable importance.  In Florida, there must be two witnesses to the signature of a last will and testament. In essence, the signature has to be reconciled with state laws, or else the entire document can be brought into question.

As a side note, if you’re preparing your own last will and testament, it’s important that you ensure it is properly signed according to your individual state’s laws.

Capacity and Influence

Even if a signature is valid, there are other elements that come into the signing or authorization of a will that can be brought into question. Was the signor of the will under the influence of pressure, therefore meaning the will itself was not actually the signor’s intent? Did the signor have the mental capacity to modify or change their will at the last minute, or should the older version of the will be used as the document that more appropriately represents the deceased’s wishes?

These are tough legal questions, and if there is evidence to support that the signor’s capacity was somehow changed or that they were being influenced into signing the will, there may be legal grounding for changing how the estate is handed down.

There are more ways to contest a last will and testament, of course, which is why it’s important to educate yourself about these documents if you plan on contesting one yourself. Don’t leap into the decision – instead, be sure that you have the grounding to come forward with these contests.

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