There are a variety of reasons that may cause an interested party to challenge a will and if you have concerns about a loved one’s estate, you may wonder when and how you can challenge a will. Will challenges are not generally terribly successful but there are several valid reasons to challenge a will if family members or other beneficiaries have concerns.
Typically, anyone with an interest in the will can challenge it, however, spouses are the most common party to challenge a will. A will may be challenged on the basis that the estate planner executing the will lacked the testamentary capacity required to do so. To have capacity to execute a will, the estate planner must be 18 years old or older. In addition, they must meet additional requirements including that they know the extent of their property; they know who their beneficiaries are; they understand the import of their actions and the disposition of their property in the will; and meet other requirements as well.
Wills must also meet all local state signature and witness requirements which are not the same in every state so estate planners should be familiar with the rules in their state. There are also requirements for what a will can contain and may be some prohibitions that a will cannot contain. Wills may also be challenged if any fraud, forgery, undue duress or coercion is alleged in the making of the will.
The courts generally do not want to disturb a will because it is viewed as the intentions of the estate planner which makes will execution especially important to ensure a will is valid and that there are no problems down the road. Making sure a will is validly executed as part of an overall estate plan can provide peace of mind for both estate planners and family members.