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When can a will be declared invalid?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | Estate Planning

A will is supposed to be the final wishes of the deceased regarding their estate, but that doesn’t mean that every heir will go along peacefully with those plans. In some cases, heirs see fit to contest a will and ask the court to declare it invalid.

Under what circumstances can a will be contested and thus declared invalid? The legalities of the will are usually the focal point of any legal action. Here are some of the usual causes of action:

If it fails to meet general legal requirements

A will must be made by a person (the “testator”) of sound mind, aged over 18 years of age, who fully understands its contents. In addition, a will should explicitly reflect the wishes of the testator and must contain their signature and those of at least two witnesses. Failure to meet either of these conditions could mean invalidation of the will. If there was an element of fraud or forgery in signing the will, those are grounds for invalidation.

Undue influence at the time of signing the will

Should it be determined that the will was signed under undue influence, it might be declared invalid. “Undue influence” can mean that the testator was emotionally manipulated or even physically coerced into signing a will that doesn’t represent their true intentions. 

Mental incapacitation

If the testator was not of sound mind when their wishes were written down, their will might be invalidated. For example, one of their heirs may allege that a will that was written right before the testator’s death was a product of dementia or another disorder that affected their thinking. 

All in all, contesting a will can get a bit complicated given the technicalities involved. However, knowing such legal aspects will put you in a better position if such an instance ever arose.