Why are wills contested?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Estate Planning

A will is a legal document that outlines a testator’s last wishes. Testators typically include beneficiaries who can inherit from an estate. 

If someone associated with the testator questions the authenticity of a will, they may challenge it in court. Here’s why that might happen:

Undue influence

A testator may be pressured into making a will that goes against their interests. This is often done for financial gain. The person looking to gain from an estate may threaten, coerce, harass or deceive a testator into getting what they want. Older testators are often more likely to suffer from undue influence because they become more vulnerable due to mental and physical infirmities. 

Duplicate wills

Many people update their wills. When a will is replaced, however, it’s time to dispose of the old will. The testator can rip, trash or burn the old will. However, there may be some confusion if a will isn’t properly destroyed. If there are major differences in an older will, then someone might contest the new one.

Executor issues

An executor is typically responsible for handling the estate after the testator passes away. The role of executor is full of responsibility and timeliness, such as submitting a valid will to probate court, collecting death certificates, paying taxes and contacting heirs. If an executor isn’t doing their duty, then the process can face delays. Upset beneficiaries may try to contest the will as a result. 

No witnesses

It’s important that wills include everything to make it valid. One of the requirements in addition to having the testator sign a will is having two witnesses who do not benefit from an estate and are of legal age witness the signing. If there are no valid witnesses when the testator signs a will, then it could be contested.

Mistakes on a will

If a testator makes their will by themselves, then there could be inaccuracies. A testator who does not understand estate planning laws may fail to include certain legal aspects. Furthermore, if a testator uses a premade will found online, then some state-specific laws may not be considered.

When contesting a will, it can help people to learn about their legal options.