People are living longer than ever before, and a growing elderly population combined with their increased wealth means that there is the danger that vulnerable adults are being taken advantage of when it comes to the disposal of their assets. Suffering a bereavement is always difficult and it can be a particularly stressful time if you or another family member has been cut out of the will. There are many grounds on which you can challenge a will, and you should be aware of them all before you consider making it a legal matter.
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
A valid will must be made by someone who is of sound mind. They must understand that they are making the will and what the effect of it will be. They also need to be aware of the value of their estate and understand the consequences of including or excluding certain people. The will can be rendered invalid if the person who made it is suffering from certain illnesses that reduce their capacity to think clearly, like dementia.
Lack of Valid Execution
If the will is not in writing and signed by the testator or a directed person, it can be rendered invalid. The person who signed the will must be aware of what they were giving their signature to, and this must be acknowledged in the presence of at least two witnesses. If these witnesses have not attested and signed the will or acknowledge the signature in the presence of the testator, there can be legal consequences. There are also rules regarding who can and cannot witness the signing of a will.
Lack of Knowledge and Approval
In probate cases, it must be proved that the testator had knowledge of and approved of the contents of their will. This can be proved even if the will was validly executed and the testator was of sound mind. One instance where lack of knowledge and approval is relevant is when there is a substantial gift in the will to the person who helped prepare it. Contesting on these grounds has more to do with suspicious circumstances than medical incapacity.
This covers things like coercion or the testator being under duress when the will was made. You must provide evidence of a very high standard to prove undue influence, and exclude every other reasonable theory that might explain the contents of the will. These cases can be difficult to win, but if you get in touch with a specialist legal team like Will Claim Solicitors, you’ll stand a better chance of success.