Once a loved one has passed away and the process of distributing their assets commences, it is not uncommon to find that there are some individuals who may consider the will invalid. This may be due to uneven distribution of assets, exclusion of potential beneficiaries and more. Generally, the people who can legally contest a will include the individual's spouse, an unmarried ex-spouse, the children and step-children, a partner who was cohabiting with the deceased and any other person who can prove they were a dependent of the deceased. Here are some of the reasons that would be valid when contesting a will.

The deceased did not have testamentary capacity

In order for a will to be valid, there should be no question about whether the deceased was of sound mind when the document was drawn up. To ensure this, there are a number of requirements that should be met to prove testamentary capacity. These requirements include:

  • The deceased could comprehend that they were creating a will and the consequent effects that it would have.
  • The deceased knew the value of their assets.
  • The deceased was aware of any consequences that would come about by both including as well as excluding different individuals from their will.
  • The deceased was not suffering from a mental disorder that would influence their regular frame of mind.

If a valid beneficiary or potential beneficiary believes that any of these requirements was not met, then it is within their rights to contest the will.

The will was not executed in a rightful manner

Another reason that you could have to contest the will of a loved one is if you believe that it was not executed appropriately. For a will to be executed legally, there are a number of requirements that it should meet. These include:

  • The will should be in writing. Additionally it should have the signature of the deceased. Alternatively, if it was signed by someone else, this individual must have been requested to do so by the deceased while in their presence.
  • The signature of the deceased should have been acknowledged by witnesses who were present at the time of signing the will.
  • The witnesses present at the signing of the will should also have their signatures included in the will to attest their presence. This should be done in front of the deceased, but does not necessarily have to be done in front of witnesses.

A will is assumed to have been legally executed unless an individual contesting it can provide evidence that will prove that any of the above requirements were not met. If you have questions about contested estates, contact a lawyer.