The purpose of an estate plan is to address the property, assets and wishes of an individual. While taking the step to draft the documents contained in an estate plan is essential and could be completed at any age or stage of life, the reality is that there is no guarantee that a person’s last will and testament will be followed according to his or her wishes at the time of their passing. This is because mistakes can find their way into a will, especially if a will is not updated with each life event.
Although it is not the first thing that crosses a testator’s mind, the reality is that heirs could take steps to invalidate your will. A will contest occurs when an heir or beneficiary does not believe that the deceased’s will reflects his or her final wishes. Thus, it is important to understand why a will could be contested after your death.
First, if a person has standing, he or she could contest your will. What does that mean? That means that the person contesting the will is a person or entity that will be personally affected by the outcome of the matter involving the will. A person contesting the will must either be an intestate heir or a beneficiary that was named in the will.
Even if an individual or entity has standing to contest a will, there must be grounds. There are four reasons to contest a will, which includes the will not being signed with the proper legal formalities, the decedent lacked the mental capacity to make the will, the decedent was unduly influenced to make the will or the will was procured through fraud. Proving any of these can be challenging; however, if successful, the will could be invalidated.
Considering your will being contested may be a difficult scenario to wrap your head around; however, taking the time to consider this could help you draft a complete will and entire estate plan. Taking the time to consider this and other legal issues in the process could prove to be very valuable.