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What should you know about challenging a will?

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Estate planning gives adults the chance to lay out a plan for what will happen to their assets after they pass away. Some people opt to accomplish this goal through trusts, but others count on their will alone.

The problem with using a will to pass down assets is that it leaves the chance for someone to challenge one’s wishes. While this isn’t common, it’s something to think about when you’re creating an estate plan.

Who can challenge a will is limited

There are only very specific people who can challenge a will. These include:

  • Beneficiaries of the current or former will
  • Heirs who would inherit assets if you didn’t have an estate plan
  • Creditors who can file a claim against the estate

By limiting who can file a will contest, it takes away the possibility of people who have no legal interest in the will delaying the actual beneficiaries from being able to get their portion of the estate.

Circumstances for challenges are limited

In order to contest a will, there must be something specific that points to a legal need to alter or cancel the will. One of the more common reasons to contest a will is because of undue influence. This occurs when a person convinces you to change something in your will for their own benefit.

Another reason is if you were unable to legally create a will when you signed it. This is typically because of an altered mental state, such as intoxication or insanity. In order to be considered “of sound mind” for estate planning, you have to:

  • Understand the value of the assets in your estate
  • Know who the beneficiaries are
  • Recognize who you’re legally responsible to provide for
  • Realize what you’re passing down through your estate plan

If all of those are present, you can’t be presumed to have lacked the testamentary capacity to create the will.

Forgery, fraud and failure to meet the legal requirements for the will are also possible causes for someone to contest your will. These all have to do with how the will was created and signed. All wills must be created based on the terms you decide, including your signature unless there’s a valid reason for you not to sign and have suitable witnesses.

Creating a solid estate plan is critical undertaking for all adults. Making sure that it’s legally enforceable and not likely to be contested may give you peace of mind and help your loved ones to follow your wishes when you’re gone.