Wills are an important part of an estate plan designed to distribute the estate and prevent conflict concerning how the estate will be distributed. They are also designed to ensure that the wishes of the party executing the will are honored and to provide peace of mind for the party executing the will and their family members. At times, however, it may be necessary to initiate a will contest or defend against a will contest to protect the rights of a beneficiary or other party.
To help avoid a will contest, thorough estate planning that includes all the necessary documents and meets all the necessary legal requirements is needed. It can be equally important to know how to respond when a will contest arises or is needed. Wills may be contested for a variety of reasons which are the same reasons it is important to have a valid will and comprehensive estate plan.
Wills may be contested for lack of competency; undue influence on the party executing the will; what the effect of the document is and if it was the original intent; disputes regarding the language in the document; disputes regarding who signed the will and if the parties who were noted to have signed it were the parties that actually signed it; if some considerations were intentionally left out of the will or if they were left out by oversight; the status of some of the assets to transfer outside of probate or if they belong to the estate; and some other concerns related to transfers.
There are important estate planning tools available to help avoid a will contest but it can also be necessary to use the option of contesting a will to protect important rights. Overall, individuals considering executing a will should be familiar with estate planning options and how to develop an effective estate plan to commemorate the rights of the estate planner.