When can you contest a will?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2020 | Estate Planning | 0 comments

If you disagree with the contents of a loved one’s will, then you might wonder if there is anything you can do about it. In Pennsylvania, you can contest the will in certain cases.

But not just everyone can contest a will for any old reason. You must fulfill several requirements before you can even petition.

Know the testator’s mental health

Certain legal grounds must exist before you contest a will. The first has to do with the will itself. Was it signed according to state laws? Does it abide by these laws? If the will is not valid under state laws, you can have it invalidated.

The next two have to do with the state of the testator. It is of crucial importance that the testator sign their will in a clear state of mind, without the presence of any manipulation or coercion. Do you think they were unduly influenced? Or perhaps you question whether they were mentally competent when signing? If you have any doubt, you may wish to pursue it. If the court finds the testator to suffer from undue influence or a lack of mental capacity, you can invalidate the will.

Keep an eye out for fraud schemes

Finally, the court may invalidate the will if someone obtained it through fraudulent means. For example, someone may have lied to the testator and told them they were signing financial documents. In reality, they were signing a will that they did not approve. Often, will fraud ties directly to a testator’s mental capacity. Many fraudsters attempt to use a victim’s weak mental health to their advantage.

If you believe any of these issues are possible, then it is grounds for invalidating a will. Consider seeking legal counsel to determine how to proceed.

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Carol Sikov Gross is a member
of the National Academy of
Elder Law Attorneys

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