When might you consider challenging a will?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2023 | Probate And Estate Administration |

Drafting a will is an essential element of managing an individual’s estate. The document guides the distribution of property after a person’s death and can even do so in a way that minimizes Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax.

However, situations can occur where a will’s contents seem unreasonable or inconsistent with the decedent’s expressed wishes. The following instances describe when an interested party may have grounds to challenge a will.

Suspicion of fraud or forgery

Creating and signing a will is a serious matter that requires the testator to be aware of the consequences of the action. If someone encouraged the testator to sign under a pretense, the will is invalid. An example of such fraud is if the testator signs while believing the will to be another kind of document fulfilling a different purpose.

As with other contracts and legal documents, forgery nullifies a will. This kind of falsification could include someone signing the will for the testator or someone adding or removing content without the testator’s knowledge.

The possibility of incapacity or undue influence

A will is not valid if the testator signs under coercion from another party. Threats or excessive persuasion are unacceptable.

Also, if a person signs a will while lacking the mental capacity to understand its significance, the document could be null and void. For example, the court could rule that a person under the influence of medication or alcohol was not competent to sign the form.

While any of the preceding reasons could motivate a probate court to reject a will, the evidence must be clear and convincing. A judge will likely uphold the document if the contesting party does not have a strong case.