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Why would someone challenge a will during probate?

In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, the process of probate starts to take care of their assets. However, there are instances when the challenging of a will interrupts the peace of this legal procedure.

This act, while not very common, is not unheard of. Understanding the motivations behind such challenges requires some background.

Unequal distribution of assets

One common reason for contesting a will is the perceived unfair distribution of assets. In families with multiple heirs, tension may arise when one party feels shortchanged in comparison to others. A poll done in 2019 found that 1 in 4 Americans struggle with estrangement from at least one family member.

This feeling is often rooted in longstanding rivalries or past familial conflicts that show up during the probate process. The upset party may assert that other people misrepresented the deceased’s intentions or that undue influence harmed the division of the estate.

Lack of testamentary capacity

Another method of contestation revolves around the deceased’s mental state at the time of drafting the will. If people believe that the individual was not of sound mind or lacked testamentary capacity, heirs may challenge the validity of the document.

This could involve demonstrating that the testator was suffering from a mental illness, dementia or other cognitive issues that could have hurt their decision-making abilities.

Discovery of a later will

In some cases, people may contest a will when they discover a more recent version. If a later will surfaces, it could nullify previous versions, sparking debates over which document accurately reflects the deceased’s final wishes. This scenario often unfolds when multiple wills exist, each with different instructions.

Contesting a will during probate is a complicated process that could seem overwhelming or frustrating at first glance. These challenges serve as a testament to the nature of human relationships and the web of motivations that can drive individuals to question the validity of a document.

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