Your Last Will and Testament is intended to be a roadmap for how you wish your assets to be handled upon your death. Unfortunately, in some cases not everyone is happy with the terms of a will. When a family member or loved one is unhappy with the outcome of a will, a will contest often ensues. If you anticipate that a will contest may be filed by someone upon your death, or simply want to prepare for the possibility, then being proactive at the time you execute your will may prevent the will contest from succeeding.
Wills are governed by state laws. As such, the grounds on which a will contest may be filed are dictated by the state in which the will is being probated. In most cases, however, simply being unhappy with the terms of the will is not sufficient grounds for contesting a will. Most states require a showing that the testator was unduly influenced, under duress, or lacking mental capacity at the time of execution of the will, or similar grounds.
Employing an estate planning attorney to prepare and witness the execution of your will is one of the easiest, and often most effective, ways to prepare for the possibility of a will contest. Testimony regarding your state of mind at the time of execution is typically crucial during a will contest. By utilizing your attorney to prepare your will and then signing the will in front of him or her, you have a credible witness to your state of mind. Another potential witness may be found in your physician. By scheduling a thorough physical close to the time you sign your will, your doctor can also testify to your health at the time and your general state of mind.