There are several different reasons that a will might be challenged. Estate planners and families of estate planners should be familiar with the circumstances that can lead to a will challenge and what to do if faced with one.
If the estate planner lacks testamentary capacity, the will could be subject to a challenge. To have testamentary capacity, the estate planner will need to understand the extent and value of their property; who the estate planner’s beneficiaries are; the disposition of their property or assets and what that disposition means; and how these considerations form the distribution of their property in the will.
Fraud, forgery, undue influence or another will
If there is any fraud, forgery or undue influence in the formation of the will, it may be possible to challenge it on that basis. if a newer will is found, it may invalidate an older version of the will. This can be a complicated process, however, so it is helpful for estate planners to have guidance if they want to change their will.
If witness requirements according to the laws where the will was signed are not met, it may be possible to challenge the will on that basis. Estate planners should know the witness requirements where they are executing their will and ensure they comply with them.
Avoiding uncertainty in an estate plan
There may be other requirements for a will to be valid that can be different by state. Estate planners should be familiar with the requirements in their state and ensure their will, and estate plan, is in compliance with those requirements. If those requirements are not met, it could lead to a will challenge. Because an estate plan is an important tool to avoid uncertainty for the estate planner and their loved ones, it is helpful for estate planners to ensure their will is valid when developing their overall estate plan.