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What does it take to successfully contest a will?

In the wake of a loss, you might be considering contesting a loved one’s will. But before embarking on this path, it’s crucial to understand the legal process, potential grounds for contest and the significant implications involved.

To contest a will, you must have “standing,” which means your financial situation would be impacted if the will is deemed invalid. This typically applies to individuals named in a previous will, potential heirs who were surprisingly excluded from the current will or those who believe they were wrongly disinherited.

Lack of testamentary capacity

One of the primary grounds for contesting a will is alleging that the testator’s mental capacity was compromised when drafting the document and, therefore, they couldn’t understand the nature and consequences of their actions. This could involve demonstrating that the testator had mental illness, dementia or other cognitive impairments at the time of executing the will.

Undue influence

Contesting a will on this basis entails arguing that the testator was coerced, manipulated or pressured into making certain provisions in the will that do not reflect their true intentions. This could involve proving that a third party exerted significant influence over the testator, depriving them of their free will in decision-making.

Fraud or forgery

If there are suspicions regarding the authenticity of the will or the signatures appearing on it, contesting on the grounds of fraud or forgery may be warranted. This involves presenting evidence to prove that the will was falsified or tampered with by another party.

Contesting a will is a complex legal process that requires careful consideration of legal grounds, evidence gathering and potential challenges. Therefore, before making any decisions, seeking guidance can help you assess your unique circumstances and navigate the legal process more confidently.