Contesting a will

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Contesting a will

My father was terminally ill and his brother convinced an attorney to draw up a Will that completely excludes me, his only child, completely. The attorney who my uncle had draw up the Will is a distant cousin whose husband logged/cut timber and profited from the land I stood to gain if I inherited my father’s belongings in the past and I was told that my uncle offered to let her husband cut the timber again if she made the Will that left the land to him instead of me. That is crooked and shouldn’t be valid, should it?

Asked on April 23, 2019 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You need more than "pressure" to challenge a will: people are pressured everyday, in many contexts, to do things, whether it's invest in a friend or relative's business, lend money to family, buy a car they were looking at, etc., and pressure does invalidate a contract, a will, or anything else. To challenge the will, you need to be able to show one of the following:
1) Your father was not mentally competent (could not understand what he was doing) when he made the will--you would need medical evidence or doctor's testimony to show this.
2) Your father was threatened with something illegal--violence, blackmail, etc.--to sign the will.
3) Your father was, at the time he created/signed the will, so dependent on his brother (e.g. his brother was his caregiver) that he could not effecetively say "no" to him.
4) The will was forged.
5) The will was not properly signed or witnessed.
6) Your father was tricked into signing the wrong will (e.g. shown one will, then it was substituted and he signed another).
Merely being "pressured" by family is not enough.


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