A will is a key component of any estate plan. It can designate who will inherit assets once its creator has passed away. It can also serve other functions such as naming a legal guardian to look after young children after the deaths of their parents.
However, a will only serves these functions if it is legally valid. Here are some reasons for contesting or challenging a will.
When fraud is present
To be valid in Virginia, two legally competent witnesses must be present when the testator (the person for whom the will was created) signs the document, and the witnesses must sign it too. This helps to reduce the opportunity for fraud. Either the testator’s signature or the will itself might come into question if proper procedures have not been followed. A will may be challenged if it is thought to be invalid or created fraudulently.
If the testator has been coerced
A will is supposed to reflect the true wishes of the person having it created. Unfortunately, someone may coerce the testator into changing the will or creating a new one that is based on their own desires. Manipulating someone into drafting terms that aren’t really their true wishes is commonly referred to as undue influence, and it is a legitimate reason to contest any legal document.
Ideally, you want to be secure in the knowledge that your final wishes (or the wishes of a loved one) will be followed when the time comes. Obtaining legal guidance when creating an estate plan can help make this happen.