If a beneficiary believes that he or she has been dealt with in an unjust manner during the execution of a Will, the law makes provisions for such persons to contest a Will and thereby challenge the way in which assets in an estate have been distributed.
The common reasons why people contest a Will include suspicions of foul play, believing that they have been disinherited on unfair grounds or the altered mental state of the deceased which led them to gift beneficiaries who they wouldn’t have included in their Will otherwise.
In this article, Legacy Wills provides information on the various grounds in which a Will can be contested, and they are as follows:
A person must be of sound mind to write a Will which is valid. Following are certain essential requirements:
- The person must be completely aware that they are making a Will and also the effects of implementing the Will that is being written.
- The person should know the value and nature of their estate.
- One must also clearly understand the consequences of excluding and including certain people in their Will.
- The person shouldn’t suffer from a mental disorder which can influence their decisions.
If a Will is being contested on the grounds of testamentary capacity, any of the above concerns should be the starting point for contesting the Will.
Lack of Approval and Knowledge
It is important that the person has knowledge of what has been written in the Will and they should also approve of the Will’s content. Having knowledge of the content and approving it is a must at the time of signing the Will.
Even if the testator was of a sound mind at the time of writing the Will and the Will was executed in the right manner, the Will can still be contested in court if it can be proven that there was a lack of knowledge and approval.
In order to prove this, one may have to show that the testator was unaware of the Will’s content or prove the existence of suspicious circumstances.
To prove that a person was under duress, coerced or unduly influenced at the time of writing the Will, you must be able to show ‘actual undue influence’.
Previously, in order to prove undue influence, the evidence had to be of a very high standard and also such that no other explanation could justify the presence of that particular clause in the Will.
However, from recent case law, it is evident that the court is now willing to accept arguments, even in cases where overwhelming evidence is not available.
Forged Wills and Fraudulent Wills
A Will can also be contested if you believe that fraud has taken place or that the Will was forged. A Will is said to be forged if a person other than the testator has signed the document with the intention of inheriting an asset.
Fraud is said to have taken place if a person has deceived the testator and has wrongly influenced him or her to remove a person from the Will.
Construction and Rectification Claims
A failure on the part of the person who understands the testator’s instructions and prepares the Will or a clerical error may cause difficulties in carrying out the testator’s instructions – and as a result, a rectification of the Will may have to be carried out. If the words in a Will seem to be ambiguous or unclear, a construction claim can be raised.
If you wish to reduce the likelihood of your Will being contested, get in touch with Legacy Wills, the Will writing specialists. Owing to the legal guidance that we provide to our customers and also the clarity of our Will templates, our Wills can be relied on to ensure you get the peace of mind you’re looking for.