Wills are the most common estate-planning document that allows individuals a way to make sure their assets are distributed according to their wishes at the time of their death. The individual who creates the will is referred to as the “testator.” Wills can be challenged based on a legal formality such as the will or an amendment ot the will not being signed and executed properly in accordance with Missouri law. Moreover, often times there are multiple or “competing” wills presented as being the true and correct will.
In addition to a will being challenged based upon a legal formality other common will contests include; lack of capacity, fraud, undue influence and duress. Lack of capacity is based upon a claim that the individual testator was not of sound mind when he or she executed the will or an amendment to a will and therefore that individual was not aware of the legal affect that the will would have. Fraud arises when someone creates a will or makes changes to a will of another person without that persons knowledge or consent. Therefore, this “fraudulently” drafted will is not really a will of the deceased at all. Undue influence oftentimes involves an elderly individual who is, physically weaker, of poor mental health, and ill or suffering from various ailments. This person is then isolated and controlled by a wrongdoer. Duress is a particularly troubling claim brought on when an individual is essentially forced to create a will or make changes to an existing will due to threats.
This list is in no way exclusive and there are a variety of reasons a will may need to be contested to ensure the true intentions of the testator are fulfilled. While some of these situations are more difficult to prove than others, the Law Office of Caleb A. Petersen, LLC, can assist you to a successful will contest.