lang: en_US

Under what circumstances can my will be contested?

Ali Katz


Q: Under what circumstances can my will be contested?

-Will Creator

A: Dear Will:

Anyone can contest a will for any reason, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be successful. If you think there is a chance that someone may contest your will, it’s critically important for the people you want to leave your assets to that you work with a lawyer to minimize the risk of contest.

To successfully contest your will, someone must prove that the document is invalid (and should be thrown out) based on one or more of the following legal grounds:

  • The will was improperly executed (signed, witnessed, and/or notarized).
  • You lacked the necessary mental capacity when you created the will. 
  • Someone unduly influenced or coerced you into creating or changing the will.
  • The will was procured by fraud.

Moreover, only individuals with "legal standing" can contest your will. Those with legal standing generally include: 1) Family members who would inherit (or inherit more) under state law if you never created a will. 2) Beneficiaries named or given a larger bequest in a prior will.

If the court determines that sufficient legal grounds exist to contest your will, it can invalidate the entire document or particular provisions within it. If your will is invalidated, it’s as if the document never existed, and your assets would be distributed according to state intestacy laws or under the terms of a prior will (if one exists).

To help prevent your will from being contested as well as reduce the chances of conflict among your heirs, contact a Personal Family Lawyer® today.