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Reasons to Contest a Will

Posted June 3, 2016

Fighting for what’s right following the death of a loved one may mean contesting or defending a written will.  Sometimes surviving family members have legal grounds to dispute wills. Other conflicts arise over the intended meaning of certain clauses in the will.  Some of the most common reasons for contesting a will include:

#1 – Undue Influence

When a loved one signed a will benefitting someone to the exclusion of other family and friends, undue influence could provide a legal basis to contest that will if two things can be shown.  First, does the person benefitting have a “confidential relationship” of trust with your loved one?  Second, was the will executed under suspicious circumstances?  Often the person benefitting from the will is a caregiver, an advisor or an acquaintance. Sometimes the loved one has been isolated from family and friends, may be vulnerable or suffering from illness, and was not given independent advice before signing documents.

#2 – Lack of Capacity

If the person signing the will (known as a “testator”) lacked capacity and the ability to manage their own affairs at the time they signed a will, the will may be susceptible to challenge.  Will changes made late in life or while suffering from a difficult illness may be challenged when the person is unable to understand the consequences of his or her actions.

#3 – Fraud

Fraud can also provide the basis for challenging a written will.  For example, if the testator did not know that they were signing a will because they were told the document they signed was something else, the will may be susceptible to a challenge.

#4 – Improper Execution

When a will was not signed or witnessed in accordance with the New Jersey statues, it may be susceptible to challenge. There are clearly established laws as to how a Last Will and Testament is to be signed.  If you have been given notice of probate and have questions about the will, or if you would like to prepare a will of your own and want to make sure it is properly executed, please contact our office today.

Contact Our Team

The law firm of Foss, San Filippo & Milne, LLC, stands ready to assist you in estate planning and administration matters.  If you are being accused of undue influence or fraud, or if you believe you have a challenge to a will, please contact our office today and call (732)741-2525.