What are reasons to challenge a will?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2021 | wills and trusts

People often tend to assume that their last will and testament will be the final word on what happens with their assets after their death. However, there are several reasons why someone may challenge the validity of a will. 

When people wish to contest a will, they can bring the issue to court. Here are three reasons why a court may find a decedent’s will to be invalid. 

1. Failure to comply with legal standards

Each jurisdiction has regulations about what a person must do to make a legally binding will. New York state does not require that people execute wills before a notary. However, failing to have two witnesses may be a sufficient basis to challenge a will. 

2. Incapacity

A person who is not of sound mind cannot create an effective will. Someone contesting a will could claim that a decedent did not have testamentary capacity at the time that he or she wrote a will. Successfully challenging a will on this basis will require evidence showing that a person had a cognitive impairment or was suffering from dementia. 

3. Undue influence

A court could rule that a will was invalid if there is evidence indicating that someone exerted undue influence over a decedent. The challenger may need to show that the decedent was especially vulnerable to manipulation or duress and that the person exerting undue influence acted improperly. 

Ultimately, challenging a will can be a difficult and protracted process. Nevertheless, a claimant who presents compelling evidence that a will is invalid may prevail in court. 

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