After you sign your Last Will and Testament, you probably expect that your wishes will be honored. So, what happens if a family member decides to challenge your Will? Successful Will challenges do not occur often, but they can cause the estate in question to be settled by state law rather than by the desires of the decedent. You can take steps to minimize chances of a successful challenge to your Will by making sure your document is airtight.
One way an heir can challenge your Will is by claiming it was not signed according to state law. If you write your own Will, you are putting your estate at risk, since you may not fully known or understand the laws that affect your document and estate. It is best to let a legal expert help, especially if you feel a challenge could be possible.
If a family member feels you did not have the mental capacity to sign a Last Will and Testament, then he or she can issue a challenge. To avoid this, you can provide evidence as to your mental ability in one of three ways: your witnesses can testify you were of sound mind, you can leave a video or letter showcasing your mental state, or you can visit a doctor who can verify you were mentally capable when you signed.
It is always important to ensure you are signing the correct document. If any heir suspects you signed a Will with the impression that it was another document, he or she can put forth a challenge. You can avoid such a contest by confirming with your witnesses what document you are signing. In the event of a challenge, they will be called to testify.
In order for your Will to be valid, the wishes within must be your own and not imposed by someone else. If a loved one believes another family member has affected the creation of your Will, a challenge is possible. Improper influence may include speaking with your attorney for you or keeping you from other family members during the process. To avoid any family member making a challenge of improper influence, you can either speak with all of your loved ones or leave a message explaining the reasons for the decisions set forth in your Will.
- Estate Planning for Individuals with a Terminal Illness - May 18, 2023
- A Living Trust Allows for Estate Privacy - May 6, 2023
- Probate in California – Creditor Notifications - May 4, 2023