Challenging a will

| Feb 22, 2018 | estate planning | 0 comments

Establishing an estate plan may seem easier said than done. It is, for the most part, something many people in San Mateo put off, but not always due to its complexities. Many put off drafting an estate plan because they do not want to face the inevitable; that one day they will pass on. Whatever the reason for avoiding this step, it is important to understand its role during and after your life.

Take for example a will. It is the most traditional and basic document in an estate plan. It memorializes the wishes of an individual, explaining who will get what at the time of their death. These documents are also frequently straightforward. In fact, it is difficult to challenge a will. Around 99 percent of wills will pass through probate without any issues arising.

However, heirs and beneficiaries might question the legality of the document, stressing that the terms of the will were not truly the intentions of the testator. Those challenging a will typically do so for certain reasons. For example, they might claim that they did not have testamentary capacity. This means that they were not old enough to draft a will. For example, a child eight years of age cannot draft the will. A person may also lack testamentary capacity if they did not understand the extent and value of their property, who their beneficiaries are, the disposition being made and what it means and how all of these elements relate to each other when it comes to distributing the property contained in the will.

Another reason to challenge a will is when it is believed fraud, forgery or undue influence is involved. These acts typically involve a person manipulating the testator, who is usually vulnerable. This results in them leaving all or most of the property to the manipulator. With regards to undue influence, this means that the person lacked free will to bargain due to the acts of the manipulator.

Drafting a will can be a lengthy and delicate process. Ensuring that there are no errors and that everything you intend is included is essential. This could help avoid problems for your beneficiaries, as challenges to a will could take time and money.

Source: FindLaw, “Reasons to Challenge a Will,” accessed Feb. 18, 2018