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When does it make sense to pursue a will contest?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2021 | Estate Litigation

Someone close to you has passed away and you find yourself wondering whether their will is valid. You feel the need to challenge it but are not sure whether to pursue a lawsuit. Do you have the right to contest their last will and testament? If so, when should you?

What to know about will contests in Minnesota

You do not have the right to challenge a deceased person’s will simply because you disagree with some aspect of it – for example, because you feel that they did not leave you enough of an inheritance. However, if you suspect that the decedent made the will while they lacked mental capacity or at the pressure of someone else, then you might have a case for a will contest.

The most common reasons for contesting a last will and testament include:

  1. Lack of capacity

If your loved one had a mental condition such as dementia or senility, they might have lacked the testamentary capacity to create a will. You might be able to contest a will successfully if you can demonstrate that the testator lacked capacity and did not understand the implications of their decisions.

  1. Fraud or forgery

Sadly, some greedy people try to make a fraudulent will or forge the decedent’s signature. The court will not honor a will that it determines to be fraudulent or forged.

  1. Undue influence

Undue influence is when someone manipulates or coerces the decisions of a vulnerable person – for example, persuading a senile elderly person to leave them a portion of their estate. Undue influence is also a form of elder abuse. Perpetrators can even face criminal charges for the financial exploitation of a senior citizen.

  1. The existence of a more recent will

Do you have evidence that your loved one updated their will or created a new one before dying? This is a valid reason for contesting a will, but you will need to locate the more recent one and prove it is real.

Successfully challenging a will or another aspect of an estate plan is not easy. It takes extensive proof, strong counsel and, of course, determination. But if you think that your loved one’s final wishes are not being honored, you should not give up your pursuit of a will contest.