Americans have a right to leave assets to people and organizations of their choice, but other individuals possess the ability to challenge these decisions. Only around one out of 100 wills are contested, usually for one of the following reasons:
- You could challenge the validity of this document because you have evidence that it was created through forgery. A court is more likely to uphold this claim if the signing wasn't witnessed or notarized.
- Some individuals contest wills because they believe that intimidation, blackmail or other forms of coercion were used to influence the person who created the document. For example, an elderly individual's caregiver may have made threats.
- Another valid challenge involves "undue influence." If a beneficiary manipulated the decedent into making certain decisions about the estate, you may have good reason to raise an objection. However, you'd need to find a way to prove this assertion.
- You can contest a will when you discover a newer document containing different last wishes than the original. If both wills are dated, it shouldn't be difficult to confirm that the updated instructions ought to be followed.
- Some objections relate to the author's mental state. If you can prove the person was insane, took drugs or suffered from dementia, you might make a valid case that this individual didn't truly understand the document's contents or purpose.
Not everyone qualifies to contest a person's last wishes. Generally, eligible individuals are related to the author or have been named in a current or previous will. State law offers the greatest protection for spouses.
If you need assistance with the complex process of estate planning or contesting a will, the Law Offices of James C. Shields can provide the help you require. Our legal professionals understand every aspect of relevant laws. Please contact us online or call (310) 626-4404 for a free consultation with a Torrance estate planning lawyer.