How to Contest a Last Will & Testament

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A last will and testament is a legal document in which an individual (the testator) chooses whom he will assign his assets to after his death. Normally, if this was done in the correct legal manner in the state where it was created, it cannot be easily disputed. However, there are circumstances under which a family member or other individual can challenge the validity and legality of the will. These challenges have to be based on a series of established benchmarks for a will. The challenge can then be made in probate court by someone who has standing, meaning they have a stake in the outcome.

Ascertain if the testator signed the will or if someone else signed on his behalf. It is usually legal for someone else to sign, but it has to be in the presence of the testator and at his behest. In addition, witnesses must be present to confirm that this was done on at the bidding of the testator.

Find out if the testator has dependent underage children that are not provided for in the will. If this is the case the will is probably not valid in most locations, since courts expect that parents will make provisions for the welfare of their children.

Challenge the validity of the will if the testator was not of sound mind at the time the will was composed. If the testator was not able to make rational decisions because of impaired judgment, then the court will consider the will invalid.

Check if the correct number of witnesses were present when the will was signed, and that they all signed the document as well. In most localities, a will must be witnessed by two or three parties. These witnesses must not themselves be beneficiaries of the will.

Search for a subsequent will that will override the first. Generally, a valid will made after another should override the terms of the first.


About the Author

Carol Adams has been writing since 2009. She writes about graphics, 3D and video software for various websites. Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a Master of Arts in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

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