Having a duly written last will can give you peace of mind knowing that your hard-earned wealth shall pass on to your designated heirs upon your demise. On the other hand, a will that is poorly created can be a subject of dispute.

Will contestation is a formal objection to the document’s validity on a number of grounds. A will can be contested by a family member, close friend or a business partner who has legal standing to dispute the document. Here are common reasons why your will may be contested.

When the will is illegal

Each state has specific laws regarding the testamentary requirements while creating a will. For a will to be valid in Virginia, the testator must be an adult (18 and above) and of sound mind. Additionally, the will must be in writing and signed in the presence of at least two disinterested witnesses who must also append their signatures on the document. A will that does not meet these, as well as other, testamentary requirements can be contested on grounds of illegality.

When the will is fraudulent

A will can be disputed and invalidated if it is a product of fraud. A will can be declared fraudulent if the testator’s signature is forged.

If the testator lacked capacity

To duly execute a will in Virginia, the testator must be fully aware of what they are doing. If the testator is able to understand the nature of the assets in the will document as well as the purpose for creating and signing the document, then they will be deemed mentally sound. A will can be contested on grounds of lack of capacity if the testator was incapacitated at the time of signing to document.

Frequently Asked Questions About Contesting Wills

Can a will be contested if it wasn’t properly executed?

Yes, improper execution is a common reason for contesting a will. Each jurisdiction has specific legal requirements regarding how a will must be signed and witnessed. If these formalities are not followed, the will could be deemed invalid.

What are some grounds for alleging that a will is fraudulent?

Fraudulent wills may be contested if there is evidence of forgery, false representations, or deceitful actions in the creation or alteration of the document.

Can someone challenge a will if they were excluded from it?

While being excluded from a will can be emotionally challenging, it, by itself, is typically not sufficient grounds for contesting a will. However, if a person has a legal right to inherit (e.g., a spouse or child in certain jurisdictions), they may have the ability to make a claim against the estate.

How long do I have to contest a will?

The time limit for contesting a will, known as the statute of limitations, varies depending on your jurisdiction. It’s essential to seek legal advice promptly if you believe you have grounds to contest a will.

Can a will be contested after probate has been granted?

Yes, it is possible to contest a will after probate has been granted, but the process may be more complex. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced attorney to understand your options in such cases.

Is there a way to prevent a will from being contested in the future?

While it is not entirely possible to guarantee a will won’t be contested, certain steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, ensuring the will is executed properly, and maintaining open communication with beneficiaries about your wishes can all help minimize the chances of future contests.

A will is one of the most important estate planning documents you can ever create. Find out how you can protect your will from a dispute when you are no longer around to clarify your intentions in person.