Planning your estate is an important step to take if you want to ensure that your assets are passed on according to your wishes when the time comes. As this blog has previously discussed, there are many estate planning tools that can come into play throughout the process. The tools chosen are dependent upon the circumstances at hand and the future wishes of the estate planner. One common vehicle used for estate planning, though, is the will. Although most people are familiar with the basic concept of a will, some find themselves unsure of why they need legal assistance when drafting one.
The main reason is to avoid a contested will. When drafted in an unclear way, important issues are left out or the process of drafting the will is drawn into question, individuals may try to claim that the will is invalid. One way that a will can be specifically challenged is by claiming that the individual who created the will lacked the mental capacity to do so. This typically occurs when it is claimed that the individual suffered from dementia or some other mental capacity. It may also be claimed that he or she was under the influence at the time of the will's creation.
A will may also be contested on the basis that it was created as the result of undue influence, fraud or forgery. Fraud occurs when the testator is essentially tricked into leaving an individual some or all property. Undue influence can occur when the testator is manipulated and coerced by another, which directly affects the outcome of the will.
These are just a few of the many ways that the validity of a will can be challenged. Confronting this legal issue can be expensive and the outcome of it may leave a party with much less than he or she deserves and less than the testator intended. Thus, those who are creating a will as part of their estate planning process should be sure to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney who can help ensure that all proper precautions are taken to avoid a contested will.