Estate planning is a meticulous process that involves outlining your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your passing.
However, even the most carefully crafted estate plans may face contestation.
1. Lack of capacity
One common ground for contesting an estate plan is the belief that the testator, the person creating the will, lacked the mental capacity to make rational decisions when drafting the document. If someone can demonstrate that you were not of sound mind at the time you created your estate plan, they may have a valid reason to contest it.
2. Undue influence
Contestations can also arise when individuals suspect that someone exerted undue influence over you during the estate planning process. If a beneficiary or another party manipulated you into making decisions against your true wishes, the legitimacy of your estate plan may seem questionable. The burden of proof is on the person contesting, but it is still a potential reason for concern.
3. Improper execution
The legal requirements for executing a will can vary from place to place, but they generally involve proper signing and witnessing. If executing your estate plan not in accordance with the legal requirements of your jurisdiction, it may mean invalidation. This could include having the wrong number of witnesses, failing to sign the document correctly or having witnesses with a conflict of interest.
4. Ambiguity or mistakes
An estate plan should be crystal clear in its intentions. If there are ambiguities or errors within the document, it can lead to disputes. The lack of clarity may result in beneficiaries interpreting your wishes differently, which can trigger legal challenges.
In a recent survey, only one of three respondents had an estate plan document. Unfortunately, even people who fall into that category also need to plan carefully to avoid their wishes getting contested.