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What are the grounds to contest a will?

Every adult should take the time to establish an estate plan. Having at least a will becomes especially important in cases where an individual becomes a parent or amasses a considerable amount of assets. Upon drafting and executing a will, it's important that an individual is aware of the value of their assets, the decisions they are making and the intended goals of those decisions.

In cases where a family member believes that a loved one lacked the mental capacity to draft or execute a will or did so while under duress, it may be appropriate to take legal action. It can be challenging to contest a will, but an attorney who handles probate litigation matters can assist.

There are numerous provisions that are required for a will to be considered valid. In will contest cases, a plaintiff must be able to prove that one or more of these provisions was violated. In many will contest cases, a family member asserts that a loved one lacked mental capacity at the time a will was executed. This issue is often raised in cases involving elderly individuals, those with dementia or individuals who were believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Additionally, a plaintiff in a will contest case may contend that a vulnerable loved one was coerced into signing a will. Unfortunately, there are those individuals who prey upon the elderly and lonely and a loved one who may be persuaded to agree to terms and sign documents while under the undue influence of another individual.

Each state also has specific language that must be included in a will in order for the will to be deemed valid. Therefore, an individual who moves and establishes residency in another state would be wise to ensure his or her will complies with state laws. Additionally, most states require that at least two individuals, neither of whom stands to profit from the will, witness the signing of the document.

Will contests are often highly emotional and complicated. An attorney who handles probate litigation matters can answer questions, provide legal advice and assist family members in their pursuit to ensure that a loved one's true wishes are carried out.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Reasons to Challenge a Will," 2014

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