Wills are fascinating legal documents because in them you will be able to deduce quite a few things about a person’s life and family dynamics. By and large, however, the terms of a will are difficult to challenge. Most states prefer to strictly follow the written document in the disposition of a decedent’s estate, and 99% of wills pass through probate with little trouble. The presumption is that the testator had made the will as a free agent.
Of course, interested parties may challenge a will within 6 months after the will has been admitted into probate. Typically, a will can be challenged most successfully when it is the spouse of the testator that poses it and on the grounds that there was undue influence or the testator lacked the mental capacity at the time the will was made. It is important to note that a successfully challenged will can be voided in its entirety, and in the absence of a previous will, the state intestacy laws will apply in the disposition of the estate. It is as if the testator never made a will at all.
The testator has to be 18 years old or above to make a will. Some states provide exceptions for an emancipated minor who is married or a minor serving in the military. There are no such exceptions provided for under Illinois law, so if you are a minor in Chicago your will can be successfully challenged just because of your age.
In large part, however, testamentary capacity refers to the mental capacity of the testator when the will was made. If the testator suffers from insanity, dementia, or under the influence of a drug at the time of making the will, it can be said that the testator did not understand what he or she was doing. According to the website of Peck Ritchey, LLC, the testator “must possess the mental capacity to understand the consequences” in order for a will to be considered valid.
Undue Influence and Fraud
Some people can be tricked, coerced or persuaded by a third party into making a will that is not a reflection of the true intent of the testator. They all essentially presume that the testator was not a free agent at the time the will was made. In some instances, the signature of the testator was forged, which is perhaps the easiest to prove.
It is the natural consequence for all those who live to, eventually, die. For people of this day and age, the aftermath of any one person’s passing can be quite messy, especially when there is discord within the family – and let’s face it, what family doesn’t argue? There’s always that one family member who wants more – or that one family member who didn’t get anything at all. Sometimes, the contents of a dead relative’s will are contested or the will’s validity itself is taken into question or the influence under which the deceased formed the will in the first place. To learn more about undue influence and nursing home abuse from Houston attorneys, click here.
There are many reasons as to why the contents of a will could be contested and the process is almost never straightforward. Given the sensitive nature of the case, many complications can arise during the duration of the investigation while the case proceeds. Having a team of lawyers who are practiced and professional in this field is of the utmost importance as cases like this demand a dedicated group of people. Probate will allow for things for flow more smoothly for all family members and heirs involved, as well as looking out for the betterment of the deceased’s estate and wealth left behind.
A will being contested already deals with the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, the case is evidently quite emotionally charged with all parties involved – possibly, for an array of reasons – thus ensuring the necessity of a probate litigation for it makes the complicated matter just a bit clearer, what with learned professionals come into the case with an objective eye, though a still sympathetic heart.
Sometimes, litigation isn’t necessary but when the estate and contents of the will are of a substantial amount – the case will have to be viewed and advised by legal experts on what the next move should be. After all, family members and loved ones, as emotionally influenced individuals without the legal know how, cannot exactly be counted upon to make the most rational of their available choices. Decisions like this are difficult to deal with as it is and, sometimes, it is not just the weary heads of the dead who deserve a bit of a rest after the ordeal. Let an expert show you the best path to take.