Challenging a will can be an emotional process, especially at a time when you are still grieving over the loss of a loved one. It can also be expensive and time consuming. However, there are certain circumstances when it might be necessary.
Did your loved one lack testamentary capacity?
Testamentary capacity is a testator’s ability to understand the value of his or her assets, who the beneficiaries of the will are and the legal effect of signing a will. Someone may lack testamentary capacity if he or she has severe senility, dementia or otherwise cannot understand what he or she is signing.
Was your loved one unduly influenced?
Undue influence refers to situations in which someone is manipulated or put under duress to write a will that benefits the manipulator. Typically, if this is occurring, the testator is isolated from family and friends and may rely on the manipulator in some way. The testator then submits to the influence of the manipulator.
Was your loved one tricked into signing it?
If a testator is tricked into signing a will, the will is procured by fraud. Someone can be tricked into signing a will if he or she is presented a document to sign but is told the document is something other than a will.
Did the will contain legal errors?
All of the legal requirements must be met for a will to be valid. In New York, someone must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind to write a will. The will must also be signed by the testator and two witnesses. The two witnesses must see the testator sign the will or declare that the document is his or her will, and when the witnesses sign it, they must also include their addresses.
Challenging a will is not an action to be taken lightly. However, when there is a valid reason, it can be an appropriate action to protect your interests or the interest of your loved one.