What are the grounds for challenging the validity of a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2023 | Estate Planning

Writing a will is a significant step in helping to ensure one’s assets are distributed according to their wishes after death. However, there are situations when the validity of a will may be questioned, leading to disputes and legal battles among the interested parties.

In Kentucky, there are specific grounds upon which a will’s validity can be challenged. Some of the most common are detailed below.

Lack of testamentary capacity

One of the primary grounds for challenging a will is the alleged lack of testamentary capacity of a will creator. Testamentary capacity refers to the mental and legal ability of a testator, the person making the will, to understand the consequences of their actions and make rational decisions regarding the distribution of their estate.

To challenge a will based on lack of testamentary capacity, the concerned party must provide evidence that the testator was mentally incapable of comprehending the nature of the will, the extent of their property and the identities of their beneficiaries. Medical records, testimonies from witnesses and professional opinions may play a crucial role in establishing the lack of testamentary capacity.

Undue influence

Another ground for challenging the validity of a will is the claim of undue influence. Undue influence occurs when an individual exerts pressure on the testator, overpowering their free will and forcing them to create a will that benefits the influencer or is contrary to their original intentions.

To prove undue influence, one must demonstrate that the testator was susceptible to manipulation and the influencer had the opportunity and motive to exert such influence. Evidence of isolation from family and friends, sudden changes in the will and the influencer’s presence during the will’s creation can support a claim of undue influence.

Fraud or forgery

A will can also be challenged if there is evidence of fraud or forgery. Fraudulent activities related to a will may include:

  • Misrepresentation
  • Deceit
  • Intentional suppression of relevant information to deceive the testator

On the other hand, forgery involves the creation of a false will or the unauthorized alteration of an existing will. Substantial evidence must be presented to prove the deceptive actions and their impact on the will’s contents.

The grounds for challenging the validity of a will are based on the principles of fairness, justice and upholding the testator’s true intentions. If you believe you have valid reasons to challenge a will, it is crucial to consult with an experienced professional who can guide you through your legal options accordingly.