One of the most complex aspects of losing a loved one is navigating the process of settling his or her estate. It is not easy to handle the possessions of another person, close his or her affairs and distribute assets, particularly during a time of grief. Settling and eventually closing a Pennsylvania estate is even more difficult when there are disputes over the terms of a will or evidence of a problem with existing estate plans.
There are times when it is appropriate to challenge a will. If you have concerns over a will, you may benefit from seeking an understanding of the legal options you may have available to you. In certain circumstances, individuals may take their concerns before a court, formally challenging a will and seeking a legal resolution to the ongoing problems. Will disputes can be stressful and complex, and it is helpful to understand what to expect before moving forward.
Indicators of a problem with a will
You may not like the terms of a loved one’s will, but that does not necessarily mean there is a reason to dispute it. However, there are certain circumstances that may indicate a potential problem with a will, giving you grounds to challenge the validity of the document. If there is any evidence of the following, you have a reason to dispute the will:
- Undue influence, fraud or forgery: Fraud or undue influence could lead to someone altering the terms of his or her will. Evidence of forging some or all of the will could also invalidate it.
- Lack of testamentary capacity: If a person did not have the capacity to make sound judgments or understand the consequences of his or her actions when creating or changing a will, the document may not be valid.
- Problems with witnesses: One must sign and date a will in the presence of two witnesses to be valid, but these witnesses must be reliable and not have an interest in the estate.
If you suspect there is a problem with the will of your loved one, you will benefit from learning more about when it is reasonable to challenge the terms of a will. An assessment of the entire situation, including your concerns and any evidence you have, will determine how to best move forward. Challenging a will can be a complex process, but this effort may be necessary to settle your loved one’s affairs and move forward.