Planning your estate is an important responsibility. Whether you are young or old, single or married, wealthy or not, planning for the future is imperative. Your estate is a major part of this. If you are dealing with somebody else's estate, you will see just how important it is to have a clearly defined plan in place. Poor planning can leave the door open to contestation and other potential legal conflicts.
While poor planning might be to blame for some estate disputes, there are other reasons that might also motivate somebody to contest a will. If you worry that something is amiss with a loved one's will, pursuing legal recourse can help you resolve the problem. The following are three reasons you might do so.
1. Questionable capacity
One of the most important factors in determining the validity of a will is assessing the overall capacity of its principal. There are many factors that can diminish a person's capacity to autonomously direct his or her own will. This is especially true if the principal was elderly or ill at the time of its composition. If you believe that mental, physical or emotional incapacitation influenced the will's content, you should consider contestation.
2. Invalid execution
There are certain standards one must adhere to in order to establish the legal validity of a will. In the state of New Jersey, you can elect to register your will in order to further ensure this. Even without registration, though, a will is only valid if it meets certain criteria. These criteria include having the document properly witnessed, signed and notarized—and if your loved one did not meet these standards, the will might not be valid.
3. Fraud or forgery
Needless to say, if someone produces a will illicitly with the intent to deceive, it is not a legally valid document, and you should contest it. Any documents affecting a person's estate that may have been forged or created fraudulently should be legally contested—and the culprit should face criminal charges. If you suspect that this is the case, gather whatever evidence you have to challenge the will.