What may I need to prove when contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2022 | Blog, Wills |

An estate’s personal representative introduces the deceased’s will to the county probate court after the testator dies. If you wish to challenge the will, you may file a claim with the court. The probate judge, however, could ask to see proof that supports the reasoning behind your challenge.

Pennsylvania’s statutes require individuals to create their wills in writing. They must also sign their wills in front of at least two witnesses. The witnesses need to include their signatures on the document, as noted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly website.

Challenges to the will’s signatures

If you believe a will does not represent the deceased’s signature, you could contest its validity. The judge may order a professional handwriting analyst to review the documents. As noted by the CrimeMuseum.org website, each individual has a unique handwriting.

A handwriting analyst may compare the will to the deceased’s other signed documents. The number of pen lifts or connections between the letters could help disprove or verify the authenticity of signatures. In some cases, an illness or prescription medication may have caused a testator to sign his or her will in a way that presents an unrecognizable signature.

Mental capacity during a will’s execution

The court may ask the will’s witnesses to provide testimony regarding the creator’s mental or physical health during the signing. Individuals generally must have sound mental capacity while creating a will. As reported by the AARP, you may bring to the court’s attention a medical diagnosis or disability that could have affected the individual’s capacity to execute a will.

Whether you have concerns based on a testator’s mental capacity during a will’s creation or if you suspect undue influence, you may contest the document in court. Providing evidence or solid reasoning to support your claim could play an important role in the outcome.