I Believe an Individual’s Will Isn’t Correct – What Can I Do?Saturday, September 15th, 2018, 9:01 am
If a loved one has recently passed away and you believe something about their will isn’t right, the legal action you need to take is call contesting the will. While contesting wills is somewhat common, you can’t simply do so because you think something isn’t right. Your claim has to be based on one of the four different legal grounds that exist for contesting and invalidating a person’s will.
1 – The Will Wasn’t Signed Correctly
Each state has different laws outlining what makes a will legally binding. In some cases, the will must be signed not only by the person writing it, but also by witnesses, a notary, or other specific individuals. These individuals may all need to sign the will at the same time, so they’re witnessed doing so. This is the most common of the four legal points used to invalidate a will, but it’s not always that easy to prove.
2 – The Person was Influenced into Signing the Will
If you have concerns that someone took advantage of an elderly relative into signing a will they didn’t really want to sign, you can attempt to prove that they were unduly influenced. You need to show the court that someone, usually someone who is greatly benefiting from the will, exerted some kind of pressure on the person. It takes more than showing a history of verbal abuse or threats to prove this.
3 – The Person Lacked Mental Capacity
If you can show that the person made changes to their will or wrote their will without the testamentary capacity to do so, that will may be invalid. There’s not an easy checklist to prove a lack of mental capacity. Some people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia, for example, may still have the capacity to understand what it is they’re signing. Having a doctor who can testify to the mental condition of the person is very helpful in these cases, as is testimony from those who knew the person well.
4 – The Will Was Presented as a Different Document
A will is considered fraudulently signed if the person who signed it did not know what they were signing. The signature page of the will may have been slipped in with some other documents or presented as something else. This is one reason why witnesses are often required to sign a will in order to make it valid. They can attest that the person knew exactly what the paperwork was.
Do you have proof that meets one or more of these legal grounds? If so, you may be able to successfully contest a will. The expert legal team of Michael F. Kanzer & Associates is here to help you file the correct paperwork and begin the process.