Many Massachusetts residents believe that as long as they have a will, their estates will be fully protected and their wishes honored when they die. Unfortunately, wills may end up being ruled invalid if not properly prepared or prepared under questionable circumstances. Here are a few reasons why one’s will may end up being contested.
Reason number one: Testamentary capacity is questionable. For a will to be valid, the person for whom it is intended has to understand what it is he or she is asking for and signing. If the testator is young, has dementia or other memory problems, or is possibly a victim of fraud — among other things — his or her will may not be upheld in court. Proving a lack of testamentary capacity is not an easy feat, however,
Reason number two: Lack of signatures. A will is not valid if it is not properly signed. The testator has to sign the will, typically in front of witnesses, and the witnesses then also have to add their signatures. A lack of appropriate signatures is one of the most common reasons wills are declared invalid.
Reason number three: Concerns of undue influence. A will should represent the wishes of the testator. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. If there is reason to believe that the contents of a will were influenced by an outside party, it may be found invalid. Undue influence can be a challenging thing to prove, but it is not impossible.
Massachusetts residents who take the time to write wills to protect their estates will want to make sure the final product is something that can be upheld in court. An experienced estate planning attorney will have the ability to help with this. Legal counsel will be able to ensure the testator understands what he or she is asking for, that the document wording is legally appropriate, that the required signatures are acquired, and that the final product truly represents the testator’s wishes.