Proper execution of a will requires that certain formalities be followed. A will can be contested on the grounds that it was not properly drafted, signed, or witnessed in accordance with the applicable requirements.
Lack of Capacity
Under South Carolina probate law, the person making or changing a will is required to have a certain mental competency for the change to be considered valid. A will can be declared void if lack of capacity can be proven. Typically, incompetence is established through medical evidence or through the testimony of witnesses as to the irrational conduct of the deceased around the time the will was executed of changed.
Undue influence occurs when someone is compelled or coerced to execute a will or trust as a result of improper pressure exerted on him or her, typically by a relative, friend, trusted advisor, or health care worker. In many cases, the undue influencer will upset a long-established estate plan. Some undue influencers are new friends or acquaintances of the decedent who "befriend" the decedent in the last months or years of life, typically after the decedent has suffered some decline in mental ability. In other situations, one child of the decedent, often a caregiver, will coerce the decedent to write the other children out of the will. Undue influencers can also be health care workers or live-in aides who implicitly or explicitly threaten to withhold care unless the estate plan is changed in favor of the health care worker.
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If you believe that you may have grounds to challenge a will or trust, it is imperative that you act immediately by contacting an attorney. In South Carolina, there is a limited amount of time for making a will contest. Therefore, prompt action is essential.
Our lawyers seek a prompt resolution to will contests through negotiation if possible and through litigation if necessary. It's not unusual for will contests to arise in blended families. Many will contests involve a caretaker who influenced a vulnerable testator to change his or her will to favor the caretaker at the expense of other family members.
For More Information About Will Contests aall 843-476-4573 to schedule a free, no-obligation legal consultation with our will contest attorney. We serve clients in Beaufort, Hilton Head Island and other communities in South Carolina.