A will is a crucial component of any estate plan. This legal document dictates how assets are divided upon a person’s death.
For a will to be valid, it must meet certain requirements. For instance, a will drafted in Pennsylvania must adhere to the laws of the state. If there are questions about the validity of a will, the document can be contested. Outlined below are some of the more common reasons for will contests.
The testator was vulnerable
Any adult can and should draft a will. Often, however, people are elderly or suffering from an illness when they get around to drafting a will or start making changes to an existing will. These are not reasons to contest a will in themselves, but the level of vulnerability with regard to the testator may be brought into question if there are disgruntled heirs. To be valid, a will must be created by a person who is oriented in time and place, understands who the natural objects of their bounty are, and understands what assets they have to distribute.
A testator must fully understand the terms of a will and their consequences. If it can be shown that they were impaired at the time of drafting, or subject to undue influence, then a challenge may be brought in court.
If fraud was a possibility
Pennsylvania state laws require a testator to be at least 18 years old. The testator’s signature must be proven by the testimony of two witnesses. Such requirements limit the possibility of fraud and forgery. If witnesses were not present, or the document looks like someone tampered with it, then the will can be contested in court.
As you draft your will or make changes, it’s important to follow the correct protocols, so seek experienced legal guidance from an attorney when you create your estate plans. This will help prevent will contests in the future.