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What constitutes reasons for challenging a will?

If you want to challenge a will and believe you have good cause to do so, you should seek legal representation. Different states have different laws and unless you know the estate rules for Kentucky or your state and are proficient at estate litigation, you will probably need a legal representative. Here are some common things for which a will can be challenged.

Was the testator in a right state of mind when the will was executed? In other words, was the person absent of any cognitive or mental issues such as dementia, senility or insanity? The person should be of sound mind when he or she made his or her will, knowing and understanding what a will means and the nature of what he or she was doing, the value of his or her property, who his or her beneficiaries were and other such relevant information. If you are challenging the will in this way, you will need to show that the testator was incapable of understanding the consequences of the will and the decisions he or she put in writing.

Was the testator unduly influenced by another or was fraud involved? Unfortunately, there are people who prey on those who are elderly or sick, convincing or coercing them to leave all, or good portions of, their property or assets to them. In cases like this, you will need to prove that the testator did not have the capacity to bargain with the manipulator or make his or her own decisions. Documents may have even been forged.

What if another will exists? Normally, a newer will should override any previous will. While there are specific requirements for destroying older wills, this does not always happen and someone may try to carry out the declarations of an outdated one. Most courts will follow the most currently dated will. You will need to know your state's laws for what makes a will void and null.

A will should also be witnessed by at least two adults, and the witnesses should not be someone who is an heir listed in the will. Many states, including Kentucky, do allow holographic wills, which is a handwritten will. However, the entire will must be written in the testator's own handwriting. These wills are usually easily challenged, but require convincing the court that the document is or is not an actual will and the handwriting of the deceased.

Source: FindLaw, "Reasons to Challenge a Will," accessed Dec. 18, 2015

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