What are the grounds on which someone can contest a Will?

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What are the grounds on which someone can contest a Will?

My grandmother died over a year ago and certain family members are contesting her Will. I know this does happen but I’m not sure why. If someone writes out specifically what they want done with their property after their death, what right does someone else have to try and change that? What can we do to fight back? Some of the questions we have been asked to answer, include gifts that were given before her death (some going back quite a while). Are there legal grounds to seize these gifts?

Asked on February 3, 2012 under Estate Planning, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Wills, when contested, can be complex--you should consult with an attorney about your specific situation.

In general, the main grounds for contesting a will are:

1) That the will was forged;

2) That the testator (person making the will) was mentally incompetent when she made it;

3) That the will was procured by threats or by "undue influence"--basically, someone in a position of power over the testator used that power to make her execute a will in her  favor.

4) That the will is invalid--for example, that it was not executed properly, and so has no effect.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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