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What are the Common Grounds for Contesting a Will?

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In the often intricate and emotionally charged world of estate planning, understanding the common grounds for contesting a will is crucial. This initial step not only provides clarity but also empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of estate disputes with confidence and peace of mind. In this guide, we aim to illuminate the common grounds for contesting a will, offering insights to those who find themselves in the midst of these challenging circumstances.

The Importance of the Testator’s Sound Mind

One of the primary grounds for challenging a will is questioning the testator’s mental state at the time of its creation. It’s essential that the person making the will is fully aware and understanding of their actions. If there’s any doubt about their sound mind, such as making a will during their last days when they may not be fully coherent, this can be a significant reason to contest the will’s validity.

Excluding a Surviving Spouse or Child

Another critical point to consider is the exclusion of a surviving spouse or child from the will. In many cases, dependents of the deceased expect to be included in the will, and their exclusion can be grounds for contestation. Both Kansas and Missouri, for instance, allow a surviving spouse or child to claim a portion of the estate, ensuring they have the necessary resources to continue their lives.

The Emergence of a New Will

The discovery of a newer will can also lead to contestation. Often, an older will might be known and later superseded by a more recent one, which could significantly change the distribution of the estate. This newer document, if legitimate, can be a valid reason to challenge the older will’s terms.

When a Will is Legally Defective

The validity of a will also hinges on its adherence to legal formalities. If a will isn’t properly witnessed or notarized, it may be considered defective. At WM Law, for instance, we ensure that wills are witnessed by two people and properly notarized, making them self-authenticating and robust against challenges based on these technicalities.

Coercion and Manipulation in Will Creation

Coercion or undue influence in the creation or modification of a will is another significant ground for contestation. This scenario is reminiscent of classic film narratives, where an individual is forced to make decisions against their will. If coercion can be proven, it provides strong grounds for challenging the will.

Fraudulent Claims in the Will

Additionally, fraud can be a basis for contesting a will. This includes situations where the will attempts to distribute property not actually part of the deceased’s estate or where the will itself is forged. Proving fraud can be complex, but it is a valid reason to challenge a will’s provisions.

Conclusion: Seeking Support in Will Contestation

Contesting a will can be an emotionally taxing and legally intricate process. Understanding these common grounds for contestation is the first step in navigating this challenging journey. Remember, if you’re facing such a situation, you don’t have to go through it alone. If you would like more information, contact us at 913-422-0909 or visit our website . At W M LAW, we are “Here to Help”.