Maybe you recently got to read your loved one’s will, which is when you realize they completely disinherited you. Perhaps you are in the process of planning your own estate and worried that someone might try to undermine your legacy.
Understanding when someone can bring a challenge against an estate plan or will in probate court can both help those concerned about the terms of a will and those planning their estate. Dissatisfaction is not a valid reason for bringing a challenge, but there are three very good reasons that can lead to challenges.
People suspect undue influence
When a spouse, child or other caregiver has control over someone’s health, socialization and daily life, that person might use their authority for the wrong purposes. Putting pressure on someone to change their will is one such abuse of interpersonal power.
In a circumstance where you believe a late change to a will reflects undue influence by someone else rather than the true intentions of your loved one, you may be able to challenge that later version of the will.
People suspect a lack of testamentary capacity
It is an unfortunately common practice for people to delay creating an estate plan. Some people wait until it is simply too late.
If your loved one only sat down to create a will after they had begun experiencing cognitive decline or been diagnosed with a condition like Alzheimer’s disease, they may not have met the legal standard for being able to create a legal document.
People suspect fraud
Estate fraud can take several different forms. People might trick a testator in to signing a document that they don’t realize is a will. They might also create a completely new and fake estate plan.
Lack of notarization, digital wills without witnesses and terms that directly contradict someone’s previous statements are all warning signs that fraud might have played a role in the terms set in the will.
If you have grounds to bring a challenge, you may be able to secure more favorable terms than those left behind in a compromised last will or estate plan.