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Guidelines for Deciding Whether to Contest a Will

If there is anything worse than death, it is probably a will contest. As painful as it might be to be deprived of an expected inheritance and not be able to ever know the reason why, fighting the decision can easily add expense and stress to the underlying hurt. Contesting a last will and testament is an uphill battle as the grounds for overturning a will are narrow and hard to prove.

If you are contemplating challenging a loved one's will, keep in mind you will have to demonstrate that one of the following four conditions is true:

  1. The deceased was subject to undue influence, meaning that he or she was pressured into making a will that benefited the wrong person. If the deceased changed the will shortly before death at the behest of a caregiver that would strengthen the argument that the person was not acting with free will.
  2. The deceased was a victim of fraud because he or she signed the will without knowing what it said or didn't even know it was a will at all.
  3. The will was not executed properly. Each state has laws about how many witnesses are required, whether the will can be handwritten, whether it has to be notarized, etc. If the document has technical flaws, a court can declare it to be invalid.
  4. The person making the will lacked sufficient mental capacity when the document was created. Causes of impairment could include dementia or medication that caused fatigue or impaired his or her judgment. Someone who is not of "sound mind and body" cannot create a valid will.

If you think that one of the scenarios above applies to your situation, and you are sure that you want to seek to overturn the will, please contact the Law Offices of James C. Shields. We will be your advocates during the legal process and will make sure that your loved one's true last wishes are honored.

Categories: Wills & Trusts
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