Why would someone contest a will?

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Probate |

Not everyone may be happy about the contents and directions in a will. Some heirs might feel slighted, but hurt feelings do not provide a legal basis for overturning a last will and testament. However, some issues might come up during probate that supports a valid claim to contest the document. An Alabama court may discover problems with the will that lead to siding with the person challenging it.

Valid grounds for contesting a will

Concerns may exist about the testator’s mental capacity when drawing up and signing the will. If the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand what he or she was doing, the will could be legally unsound. Sadly, unethical relatives or others could take advantage of someone’s limited capacity and guide them to create a will that benefits them. If proof exists that this occurred, the will could be deemed invalid.

Outright fraud might happen; such instances may involve getting the testator to sign a will that is not the one he or she wrote. Such “bait-and-switch” tactics do not lead to a legally valid will. Neither would instances where undue influence guides a testator’s hand to sign a document.

Contesting the will

When the will enters probate, those interested in contesting the will must have standing. A close relative, such as a son or daughter, could potentially have standing. Distant relatives or those with little contact with the testator may not have standing.

No matter who takes legal action to contest a will, the individual must prove any claims about undue influence, limited mental capacity, fraud or other grounds. Sometimes, the burden of proof is high.

That said, any will that does not meet the state’s criteria to be valid, such as an unsigned document, won’t stand in probate. Once the judge discovers that the will is not legally valid, the court may turn to intestate laws to carry out probate.