ontesting a will is a common trope in television and movie scripts, but the reality of contesting a will is very different from the way it’s typically dramatized. There are only very narrow circumstances where an individual can actually contest a will. The process can also be very time-consuming and expensive. Sometimes, even if you can contest a will, it may not be worth doing it in the long run, so it’s worth getting an attorney’s advice about whether you can and should begin the process.
Invalidating a will
Wills and the probate process are very nit-picky areas of law. Wills can only be invalidated for a few very specific reasons. A will must be executed correctly under state law. For example, if a will isn’t witnessed properly, it may be invalidated under the law.
Mental state is important, too. A person must have what’s known as “testamentary capacity” to make a valid will. This is a threshold meaning they must be able to understand the assets they are distributing in the will. Some people with dementia may meet this standard while others will not.
Fraud will always invalidate a will. This essentially means that there was trickery involved in making the document and that the signer was taken advantage of. A final reason that a will can be invalidated is undue influence. This means that someone is manipulating or coercing the testator into inserting specific content into the will.
Do you meet the standard for contesting a will?
If you believe a will meets one of these standards and would like to contest it, it’s important to contact a lawyer. They may help you understand whether a will contest is possible. They may also help you do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the lengthy process is worth it.