What Happens When Someone Contests a Will?

August 27, 2013  |  William F. Huefner

Are you worried that your family won’t pay attention to your last wishes after you die? Contesting a will can happen, but contrary to television drama it’s not quite as common as people imagine.
Your relatives can contest your will if they have reason to believe it was signed improperly. If you work with a qualified estate planning attorney this shouldn’t happen, simply because your attorney will make sure that your will is signed and witnessed in accordance with the law.
Your relatives an also contest your will if you were mentally unfit in the time the will was signed. If you have Alzheimer’s or another mind-altering illness when you finally get around to doing your will you could open your will up to contest.
This is why it’s so important to take care of estate planning issues as soon as possible, preferably when you are still relatively healthy and strong. Don’t wait for an accident or devastating illness. It’s counterintuitive, but the ideal time to start worrying about estate planning is when things are going well!
Your relatives can also contest your will if they believe someone had undue influence over you when you wrote it. This usually happens when you write or change the will to heavily favor a caregiver. Your relatives may believe that this happened because the caregiver pressured you, abused you, or manipulated you into writing the will as you did.
If actual abuse or manipulation did exist this would actually be a very good reason to contest a will. Again, you can avoid this by writing your will when you are in your own care. People regularly update their wills, however, be aware that any drastic changes at the end of your life could raise red flags.
Anyone who contests a will must show that they have some kind of “standing” in the process. They must be able to show that they are in a position to be directly impacted by that will. Your second cousin might have a hard time proving standing if you have three children, but your middle child would not.
Make sure that your family respects your last wishes. Contact BGS today for an estate planning evaluation.