Share

Biddle Law Estate Planning Blog

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Common Types of Will Contests

Common Types of Will Contests

The most basic estate planning tool is a will which establishes how an individual's property will be distributed and names beneficiaries to receive those assets. Unfortunately, there are circumstances when disputes arise among surviving family members that can lead to a will contest. This is a court proceeding in which the validity of the will is challenged.

In order to have standing to bring a will contest, a party must have a legitimate interest in the estate. Although the law in this regard varies from state to state, the proceeding can be brought by heirs, beneficiaries, and others who stand to inherit. While these disputes are often the result of changes to the distribution plan from a prior will, some common types of will contests are as follows.

Lack of testamentary capacity

The testator, that is the person making the will, must have the mental capacity and be of sound mind at the time the will is executed , modified or revoked. Further, being of sound mind means that the testator knows what property he or she owns and understands the effect of executing the will. Although these are considered to be low standards, claims that the deceased lacked the mental capacity when the will was executed are common.

Undue influence

If the deceased was coerced into executing the will, it may be considered invalid. In order to ensure that the testator is not subjected to undue influence, the will should be prepared by an attorney. Moreover, heirs and beneficiaries should not take part in meetings and discussions between the testator and his or her attorney.

Will improperly executed

There are certain formalities that must be followed in order for a will to be considered validly executed. While some states require a notarized signature, others insist on a certain number of witnesses being present when the will is executed. If these formalities are not strictly followed, the will may be found to be improperly executed.

Fraud

A will can also be considered invalid if a person is intentionally deceived when preparing and executing the document.

The Takeaway

If a will is successfully contested, it can be declared invalid by the court. This means that the assets will be distributed either according to the terms of a prior will or if no such will exists, the state's intestacy rules. Ultimately, engaging the services of an experienced estate planning an attorney can minimize the risk of a will contest.


Archived Posts

2019
2018
2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January
2016


Biddle Law is located in San Mateo and Belmont and services San Mateo County including San Carlos, Burlingame and Foster City.



© 2019 Biddle Law | Disclaimer
1900 South Norfolk Street, Suite 350, San Mateo, CA 94403
| Phone: 650.532.3470
1027 1/2 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont, CA 94002
| Phone: 650.532.3470

Estate Planning | Probate Administration | Estate Litigation | Advanced Estate Planning | Estate Tax Planning | Trust Administration | Business Succession Planning | Family Limited Partnerships | Pet Trusts | Avoiding Probate | | About Us | Testimonials | Contact Us | Video FAQs

Law Firm Website Design by
Amicus Creative