There are several circumstances which may warrant contesting a will. You may have become aware of a fraudulent situation such as a scam to which an elderly relative may have fallen victim. Or it is possible that you were not named as a beneficiary, though you have reason to believe you have rights to an inheritance. When these things become evident, it is important to contact an estate and probate attorney right away. A will can only be contested prior to the end of the probate process. Here are some of the more common reasons why a will can be contested.
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
You may be familiar with the “of sound mind” clause in a will. This is a very important aspect of any legal document’s legitimacy. As a person ages, they can become more confused. They may be less likely to maintain a grasp on what is in their best interest. Your loved one may no longer be able to discern the truth. They may also be misled or coerced more easily. If your aging loved one connected with an unethical person and was unable to recognize this, they may have signed a new will that did not include or say what they wanted or intended. This is a legitimate reason to contest the will with the help of an estate and probate attorney.
Improper influence may also be called undue influence. If this is determined, a legal document can be declared invalid. With a will, it could be a marriage where a new spouse-to-be says something like, “I will not marry you until you change your will.” Another example is when a child or sibling might say, “If you really loved me, you would leave me (insert dollars, item, etc.).” Petitioners need to prove that the new version of the will was signed under duress or without choice in cases such as these.
Handwritten or video wills are often not valid. Additionally, there are other reasons that a will may be declared invalid. If you can prove the will was not signed either by the named person or if the deceased and the witnesses were not together at the time of signing, then this may reveal execution irregularities.
Wagstaff & Pitelis, Your Experienced Estate and Probate Attorneys
At Wagstaff & Pitelis, we are experienced estate and probate attorneys. We can assist you in planning for the future by establishing a will or trust, carrying out probate, or helping you determine if you have grounds to contest a will. We help families throughout Clearwater, Belleair Bluffs, and the surrounding areas. Call us today at (727) 584-8182 or fill out our contact form.