Often times a disappointed relative who feels that he or she did not get a “fair share” of the estate will try to have the last will and testament declared invalid by contesting the will in court. Only a person with legal standing may contest a last will; this requires that he or she must either be a named beneficiary in the will or stand to inherit if the existing will is declared invalid.

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A common strategy for declaring a last will invalid is to argue that the decedent was not of sound mind and was unable to understand what he or she was doing when the will was formed. Another strategy is to argue that the last will was created under the undue influence or coercion of another person. The court will call the witnesses to the will or adduce their affidavits to determine the validity of the document.

Some states allow last wills to include a “no-contest” clause to discourage such challenges. This clause effectively states that anyone who unsuccessfully contests the will receives nothing.

If the will is declared invalid, the assets in question fall into intestacy . Generally, intestate distribution follows family relations with assets awarded first to the spouse, then to children, and so on.

Disagreements over a last will can be damaging to family relationships. A family meeting with a neutral third party can help resolve any disputes outside of court. However, this is not always possible. For help resolving a contested last will, contact an estate planning attorney.


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Get started Start Your Last Will and Testament Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Last Will and Testament Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.