There is a common misconception that just having a will in place will be sufficient to protect a person’s wishes and assets. People assume that they can draw up a will, expect that the terms will be carried out as specified and never have to worry about any potential disputes.
However, this mindset can leave several loose ends that can put people in a position to have a will or certain provisions in the will invalidated. In too many situations, people make critical errors or oversights that may be grounds for someone to contest a will.
In some cases, a will is contested because there is reason to believe the person who made the will, also called a testator, was not legally fit to form a legal will. This could mean that he or she was too young, suffering from mental illness or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or manipulative parties.
A will may also be contested if it is not legally enforceable. If a will is not signed in the presence of witnesses, for example, it may not be valid. Someone may also contest a will if the language in it is unclear, inaccurate, confusing or all but impossible to execute.
Missing or outdated information can also prompt a challenge. Wills should be revised when a person’s family structure or financial standing changes so that it continues to be accurate. If, for example, a grandchild is left out of a will, it can be difficult to determine whether that was done on purpose or accidentally without an updated will. Similarly, if the testator acquires property that is not reflected in the will, it can be very complicated to figure out what should happen to the property.
Unfortunately, the person who created the will cannot explain or defend what has been included or omitted from a will once he or she has passed. It will be left up to the courts to make these determinations. Rather than rely on strangers or people with whom you do not have a strong relationship to make these decisions, it can be a good idea to discuss a will with an attorney who can identify and address any potential issues.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Reasons to Challenge a Will,” accessed on March 5, 2015