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Common reasons for contesting a will

Death is something that all individuals, regardless of wealth and status, must one day face. When preparing for death and dealing with matters related to estate planning, some individuals unwisely take matters into their own hands or opt for shortcuts. Many specifics related to a will or trust, however, are complex which increases the likelihood that an error will occur that could result in unwanted and unforseen consequences.

In cases where a family member believes the will of a deceased love one does not express their loved one's true wishes, a will contest may be a good option. Individuals planning a will contest may choose to do so for a variety of reasons including suspicions of undue influence over an ailing loved one, questionable last-minute changes to a will and when there are questions related to inheritance matters.

Many attorneys who deal with probate litigation note an increase in will contests within recent years. This increase is likely due in part to the fact that many baby boomers are aging and thereby dying and leaving large amounts of wealth and property to heirs. An aging population coupled with the recent economic challenges many Americans experienced make inheritance matters that much more relevant and potentially contentious.

Additionally, many individuals seeking to save money may have turned to the Internet and so-called do-it-yourself estate planning websites when drafting a will. Trusting that a website can provide the advice and guidance required when sorting out matters as important as a will, however, is never a good idea. When relatives question whether a will truly expresses the wishes of a deceased love one, it's wise to consult with an attorney.

A legal professional who is well-versed in probate litigation matters may be able to help prove that a will is invalid. Common reasons for contesting a will include fraud, undue influence and questions related to a decedent's mental capacity.

Source: The Huffington Post Canada, "Contesting the Will: Why Are Inheritance Disputes on the Rise?" Ian M. Hull, July 24, 2013

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