A will is supposed to express the final wishes of the person who passed away. It is their last chance to influence what is done with their estate. It can divide assets between the children, leave assets to charity or give other instructions for what is to be done with the deceased’s physical or financial property.
However, when heirs read the will, they may have a right to contest it. This right extends to those named in the will and those who may have been cut out of a previous will. What are some of the reasons for a challenge?
First of all, as noted, someone can be removed from a will in a more recent draft. This is called being disinherited. It can lead to a contest if the disinherited person thinks it was done unfairly.
One potential issue is fraud. Does one of the heirs think that another may have forged the will and then presented this false document as the real thing? This can also lead to a challenge to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are actually honored.
Even when an outright forgery is not an issue, a will can be challenged on the grounds of undue influence. For example, if a person cuts his or her children out of the will and leaves everything to a caregiver, the children may say that the caregiver used undue influence to manipulate an elderly person who was in a fragile mental state.
That mental state is also quite important. A will written near the end of a person’s life may get challenged if they did not have the mental capacity to fully understand the ramifications of the will. For instance, perhaps they had Alzheimer’s and could not even remember the names of their children.
These are just a few examples, but they help to show why it is so important to know what legal options you have, including the right to contest a will, when dealing with end-of-life matters.