Under What Grounds Can A Will Be Contested?

Posted on: 25 February 2015

When loved ones pass on, their property is administered to rightful beneficiaries according to the provisions and conditions spelt out in his or her last will. However, there are a number of situations that may lead one to decide to contest a will left by their loved one. These situations are referred to as grounds for contestation of a will and are anchored in the law. Here is a quick look at some of the legal grounds under which one can contest a will.

The Testator Was Unduly Influenced

Wills are most commonly contested on the grounds that the testator was unduly influenced by a third party or third parties when drafting the will document. Undue influence includes coercion of the testator and even putting him or her under distress when the will is being drafted. The implication here is that the testator did not sign the will document out of their own free will.

Threats of and actual use of violence are among the various avenues through which undue influence can be exerted on a testator to draft a will.

A will can also be contested on this ground if undue influence was used to get the testator to change certain parts and provisions of the will document.

The Will Was Not Duly Executed

Another common ground for will contestation is the undue execution of wills. Undue execution refers to failure by the testator to meet the minimum requirements laid down for a will to be considered valid.  This ground for will contestant is also referred to as lack of valid execution.

A few of the requirements mentioned above include the following: 

  • Presentation of the will document in written format with the original signature of the testator appearing on the document. Alternatively, the will document must bear the signature of the testator's legally appointed representative.
  • Acknowledgement by all witnesses that the signature appearing in the will document was appended in the presence of the testator

These are only two of the threshold requirements that determine the validity of a will document. Failure to meet the laid down threshold is ground for will contestation.

The Will Is Fraudulent Or Forged

Fraud and forgery are also grounds for will contestation. In a large number of fraudulent will cases, the testator's signature is forged. This is often done by people who have a close association with the testator.  

It is therefore important to ensure that you are familiar with the legal trustees appointed by the testator as their copy of the testator's last will is likely to be original and the most recent of all drafted wills before the testator's death.

For more information, contact a business such as Griffiths & Godecke.