When your loved one passes away, an estate plan can be a comfort. It can leave you certain of their wishes and ease your burden during a difficult time. However, if you believe that a loved one’s will does not reflect their wishes or the legal requirements of your state, you may be able to contest the will. What concerns can be grounds for contesting a will?
The will is invalid
If a will does not meet the legal requirements for the maker’s state, then that will may not be valid. This can mean that the person’s testamentary capacity—their ability to make informed decisions about their estate plan—is in question, or that it was not signed by the required witnesses.
A more recent version of the estate plan exists
Experts usually recommend that you update your estate plan every five years, and those new documents are made so that your estate plan reflects your needs and wishes now. A person’s estate should be distributed according to their most recent plan, and if an older will is used it is important to contest that will so that the more recent documents are used.
Someone exerted undue influence on your loved one
If someone updated their will in the last few weeks or months of their life, it can be a cause for concern. Many older people are more vulnerable in their old age; sometimes concerns arise about whether the person was manipulated. If a healthcare worker, business partner or caregiver pressured the person into giving them a greater share of the estate or to remove another person from the beneficiaries listed in a will, this can be a reason to contest the will.
Residence issues can also be cause for contesting an estate plan
Each state has its own laws regarding estate plans. If an estate plan met the legal requirements of one state that doesn’t always mean that it will be valid in another. If a person has residences in multiple states—for example, if they spend their winters in one state and their summers in another—then their will may only be valid in one of those states. They may also move to a new state and not update their will. If they pass away while residing in this other state, their will may not be valid.
If you have questions about whether your loved one’s will is valid, speak to an attorney about those concerns. You may be able to contest the will and ensure that your loved one’s wishes for their estate are respected.