Having a will in place is an effective way to share your wishes, protect your assets and direct loved ones in how to manage your affairs after you are gone. Because of how important wills are, every adult should have one.
That said, some wills are vulnerable to contests during probate. Whether you are creating a will or have questions about contesting someone else’s, there are some important things to understand about will contests.
There must be grounds to contest a will
People cannot contest a will just because they do not like what it says. Generally, courts will only set aside a will if there is evidence of wrongdoing or improper procedures. This could include:
- Undue influence (the allegation that another party manipulated or threatened the testator)
- Lack to testamentary capacity (the assertion that the testator was not mentally sound and did not have the capacity to make or change a will)
- Improper procedures (a will had no witnesses or was not signed)
- Multiple versions of a will
- Illegal clauses in the will
- Forgery or fraud
Under these circumstances, the courts could set aside a will.
Contests could be costly
Not only does it cost money to challenge a will in court, it can also strain relationships and extend the probate process. As such, it is crucial for parties to think carefully before challenging a will. This is especially true if the evidence of wrongdoing is tenuous or impossible to prove.
There are ways to prevent contests
If you or your loved one is creating a will, there are ways you can shield it from contests. The first step is to create a legally valid with the help of an attorney. You should also discuss your wishes – and any changes to your wishes – with trusted loved ones. That way, there is someone who can attest to your intentions and frame of mind.
When it comes to the elements of a will, parties should avoid controversial terms and explain any unusual or unexpected clauses to prevent contests. A person might consider adding a no-contest provision that penalizes parties who contest a will without probable cause, in accordance with Colorado laws.
Will contests can be complicated and possibly contentious. As such, it is wise for parties to seek legal counsel to avoid or carefully navigate these situations.