When can I contest a will?

A loved one’s last will and testament is a valuable legal document that dictates what they want to happen with their property and other affairs after death. Considering the weight that a will holds, asking the courts not to enforce it is a huge decision.

However, there are several reasons why people might want to contest a will. For instance, they might think the will is not an accurate reflection of the testator’s wishes, or they may feel it does not meet legal requirements. If you are considering challenging a loved one’s will, you should know whether you can – and should.

Grounds for contesting a will

Courts do not overturn a person’s wishes without careful consideration. Just because someone feels the will is unfair does not mean the courts will set those wishes aside.

For a will contest to succeed, an interested party must be able to show:

  • The testator (will maker) was a victim of undue influence or fraud
  • The testator was ill and lacked the mental capacity to draft or change the will
  • The will is inaccurate, illegal or outdated

Under these circumstances, and where there is sufficient evidence, challenges to a will could be successful.

Even if you can contest a will, should you?

Having this information can allow you to determine whether you have grounds to contest a will during probate. However, even if you can challenge the will, you may decide against it.

There are consequences to contesting a will that you may not be prepared for or wish to deal with. For instance, contesting a will could mean:

  • Extending the probate process
  • Taking on more legal fees
  • Straining relationships with other beneficiaries

If these drawbacks of a will contest outweigh the benefits, you may decide not to move forward with this motion.

However, when a loved one’s legacy is on the line, it is crucial to consider all the options available. You can also speak with an attorney from our Estates & Trusts Practice Group to identify solutions and opportunities that could minimize conflict while also preserving people’s rights.