Whenever a Will is offered for probate and an individual was left out of the will entirely or that individual did not receive a fair share, there may be grounds to the contest the Will. A Will contest is a legal proceeding in which a challenge is raised as to the validity or enforceability of a Will. If the Will is deemed to be invalid or unenforceable, then a person’s estate will be distributed according to the terms of a prior Will or, if none exists, the estate will be distributed pursuant to the Pennsylvania Intestacy Laws. Below are some of the common grounds to challenge a Will.
Common Grounds to Contest a Will
Lack of Testamentary Capacity:
PEF Code § 2501 requires that the testator must be at least 18 years old and of “sound mind” to make a Will. Generally, a testator must have the capacity at the time of Will execution that he or she understood the property he possesses and what he or she desires to do with his or her estate.
Undue influence is persuasion, pressure or influence short of actual force but stronger than mere advice, that so overpowers the dominated party’s free will or judgment that he or she cannot act intelligently and voluntarily, but acts, instead, subject to the will or purposes of the dominating party. Learn more about undue influence in Montgomery County, PA Orphans’ Court litigation.
Fraud is an act that induces a person to dispose of his property or to do some act contrary to his wishes in such a way that he would not do but for the fraud.
Forgery: Forgery is an unauthorized signing of a Will by another, the fabrication of a dispositive scheme over the testator’s general signature, or the substitution of one page of a Will with another.
This can occur when the testator thinks he is signing another document – not the Will or where the testator unintentionally signs the Will.
When the Will was executed as a direct result of an insane delusion – an insane belief or a figment of the imagination.
Pennsylvania Will contests are usually very complex matters to litigate. There are also time limitations prescribed by Pennsylvania law that could prohibit a challenge if too much time passes. Therefore, it is important to contact a Will contest lawyer immediately.
Experienced Will Contest Lawyers
The Martin Law Firm is located in Blue Bell, PA. Our practice focuses on Will contests as well as probate and estate administration. We represent individuals who want to challenge the validity of a Will and we represent those who are defending a similar action. We would be happy to discuss your Will contest matter with you. Please contact us at 215-646-3980.