FAQs Concerning Contested Wills
If a Will is not executed properly, you may be laying the groundwork for the destruction of your estate plans. The more mistakes and errors in a Will, the more likely it will be contested in court.
Who pays to defend a Will?The cost of defending a Will is billed typically to the estate itself.
What happens if a Will is contested?If a Will challenge is successful, the person who originally disputed the Will may gain control over the estate.
Who can contest a Will?Those who could challenge a Will include those named in the Will and those who would inherit if you died intestate (without a will).
Why are Wills contested?1. The Will lacks the formality required by the state's Statute of Wills: The testator (the one creating the will) must be at least 18 years old and if the Will is typed or printed, two witnesses must sign it. Verbal or oral Wills aren't usually valid in New Jersey.
2. The testator lacked sufficient mental capacity to legally execute a Will: The testator is presumed to have sufficient mental capacity to execute a Will (he or she was of sound mind and competent when the Will was executed). The testator understood the property to be disposed of, those who would naturally be seen as benefiting from the estate, the process of creating the Will and the distributions made in it.
3. The contents of the Will are a product of undue influence upon the testator by another: Undue influence can be considered mental, moral, or physical efforts being exerted on the testator resulting in a loss of his or her free will so the contents of the Will actually reflect the desires of another person.
4. The Will is the result of deception or fraud: This would take place if a beneficiary made at least one false statement to the testator, which resulted in the Will being written to benefit the beneficiary due to the false statement.
Should I draft my own will or use an online form?When a Will is created, it should be done so with potential challenges in mind to make it difficult, if not practically impossible, for a challenge to be successful. If you draft your own Will or just fill in the blanks on a form, you may not be creating safe guards for an effective defense, which will make your estate plans susceptible to a successful challenge.