People can create a will any time after they become legal adults and generally retain the authority to do so until they lose their testamentary capacity. Often, those who create wills discuss them with family members so that people know what to expect.
When someone names you as a potential beneficiary for their estate, you may expect to receive certain property according to their prior promises. Unfortunately, sometimes people receive unpleasant surprises during the reading of someone’s will.
If your loved one made unexpected changes to their will in the last months of their life, is that a reason to challenge the document?
Do you suspect compromised cognitive function?
Simply making changes to a will shortly before one’s death is not a reason to challenge an estate plan unless there are specific complicating factors. However, if you believe someone made changes when they did not have full cognitive function, that could be a reason to challenge their documents.
A lack of testamentary capacity means that an older adult can no longer enter into binding contracts and therefore cannot update or create a will anymore.
If there are medical records that confirm your loved one had a specific diagnosis or concerning symptoms of a mental disorder at the time they created their documents, you may have grounds to have the courts question the validity of those documents. Provided that you have evidence of someone’s cognitive decline, you can ask the courts to invalidate the questionable documents and uphold earlier versions of them instead.
Understanding when circumstances justify a will contest can help you protect your potential inheritance.