A will is a legally binding document that outlines wishes and decisions, assets distribution, wealth, and responsibilities a person holds currently. Once the writer of a will dies, it is almost impossible to challenge it in any way.
The court treats a will as the testator’s final voice as the person is not present to voice out different wishes or answer questions. If you successfully challenge a will, part of it or the entire will can become void, and if a will becomes void, then the court distributes the deceased person’s property as if no will exists.
However, due to old age or other conditions, some people may fail to update a will written a long time ago, leaving out some unaccounted-for properties, which may cause disputes among family members. Here are some grounds that the court may allow someone to challenge a will. Nonetheless, you will need a lawyer to contest any will successfully.
If a Will Overrides the One Under Execution
In executing a will, an updated will may trump over the old one. It is wise for a testator to destroy the old will when updating to a new one. You may feel that you had significant contributions to the person’s wealth after the first will, but the distribution does not respect that. The court’s main interest is to fulfill the testator’s wishes, which is why the date of drawing it is essential. If a will with a recent date and the deceased person’s signature comes up, the court will likely go by the newer one. However, you will need experienced estate and will lawyers to help you successfully dispute the older will.
The Testamentary Capacity
Testamentary capacity is the ability of a person to create a valid will according to the law. Mainly, age and mental state determine a person’s testamentary capacity. The law dictates that adults of eighteen years or older can create a valid will while minors cannot. Some litigations may challenge an adult’s capacity to form a will. For instance, if the adult suffered dementia, insanity, or any other form of mental inability that may limit the ability to create a will. Substance abuse influence may affect the testamentary capacity of an adult. To challenge such a will, you have to prove that the testator did not understand the consequential impact of the will when creating it. You must also understand;
- The extent of the property
- The beneficiaries of the will and the people who were under the deceased person’s care.
- The relationship of the elements for you to distribute property properly.
Adequate and Suitable Witnesses
A typed hardcopy of any will must be signed and dated by the testator in the presence of two to three witnesses indicated in the document. Some states require that an appropriate witness not be an heir in the will. However, some property owners prefer to draw a “holographic” will that is handwritten and has no witness. Holographic wills are the simplest to dispute in court. First, you must convince the court that the document is drawn in the testator’s handwriting to serve as a final will.
A will is the final decision of the drawer. Therefore, one must be extra careful when creating one to avoid leaving behind misunderstandings, especially among siblings. If you feel that some will provisions are inappropriate, it would be best to seek professional help to amend them.
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