The loss of a loved one is difficult, but it can be especially difficult if you do not believe the estate planning documents left behind reflect his or her true wishes. There are times when loved ones have genuine concerns about the terms of a will and whether the will is valid. If you suspect the terms of a will are incorrect for any reasons, including the possibility of coercion, you may have grounds to contest the will.
Contesting a will is a complex legal process that has the potential to cost your family both time and money. It is critical to have a valid reason and clear purpose before pursuing this course of action. Simply not liking the terms of the will is not a good reason to challenge a will. Issues such as lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence are legitimate reasons to bring your concerns before the court and fight for a beneficial outcome.
Did the decedent have testamentary capacity?
In order for someone to create a valid will, he or she must have testamentary capacity. This means that individual must be of sound mind at the time, capable of making decisions and understanding the potential implications of the choices he or she is making. In order to have testamentary capacity, the individual must understand:
- Who the beneficiaries of the will are
- The value and extent of the property in the estate
- Who he or she is expected to provide for
- The disposition made by the terms of the will and what it means
- How the elements of the will determine the distribution of estate property
If you are to successfully prove that the decedent did not have testamentary capacity when creating the will or making changes, you must have clear evidence that the individual did not understand what he or she was doing. You may also challenge a will if there is evidence of fraud or coercion.
Fighting for the best outcome
Challenge a will can be a difficult process, but it may be in the best interests of your Pennsylvania family. If you are unsure of what options you may have, it may help to first seek an assessment of your case. This can provide you with an understanding of your legal options, which may include the pursuit of legal action to challenge a loved one’s will.