A person who disagrees with the terms of a will is not able to contest the document simply because it does not allocate resources in the manner he or she desires. One of four possible legal circumstances needs to be established before someone can contest a will in Pennsylvania.
The first legal reason for an estate dispute is a will signing that does not follow the law. The person creating the will must commit his or her signature to the paper in the presence of witnesses. A will that not signed according to the law is most often the reason this document is challenged.
The person signing the will must also possess the “testamentary capacity” to authorize the document. This term means that the creator of the will understands both the nature and value of the assets he or she designates in the will and can use logic to determine who should inherit the assets.
A will is also subject to a contest if the testator was influenced to sign the document in a manner that is threatening, deceptive or unlawful in some other way. The legal burden for someone who wants to contest a will is proving that the influencer applied enough pressure on the person who signed the will to affect the person’s free will to do so.
Finally, a person who feels someone fraudulently obtained a will may also have a good case for contesting a will. One example of this type of fraud is the presentation of a will as some other type of document to secure the signature of the testator. This can be difficult to prove since courts will often put just as much weight on what the witness thought he or she was signing as they will on the presumptions of the testator.
The allocation of assets is often the cause of friction in many families that lead to estate disputes. However, people who disagree with the provisions of a will must abide by them unless there is reason to support another course of action. Individuals who feel they have reason to contest a will may find it useful to speak to an attorney.