The most basic, and arguably most important, estate planning tool; a will can be used to accomplish several estate planning objectives including:
- Designate a guardian for a minor-aged child
- Designate who receives your belongings
- Designate how (some) assets are distributed
For some people, a will may be the only estate planning tool they need. However, like any estate planning matter, it’s important to consult with an attorney when formulating and formalizing a will. In cases where there are questions about how, by whom or under what conditions a will was drafted; surviving relatives may choose to contest a will.
It’s important to note that a family member cannot choose to contest a will simply because he or she doesn’t like or agree with its contents. In fact, a will may be contested by a family member only in cases where certain conditions apply including:
- Decedent lacked capacity – A loved one’s capacity (legal and mental) may be called into question if, at the time a will was drafted or amended, he or she showed signs of suffering from dementia, was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or was deemed legally insane.
- Undue influence – Will contests that involve allegations of fraud, forgery and undue influence typically include assertions that a loved one was manipulated when drafting or amending a will and therefore lacked free will.
- Fraud & forgery – A will may be contested if a family member believes that someone other than the decedent drafted, amended and/or signed the will.
As with all estate planning documents, it’s important to consult with and obtain the assistance of an attorney when drafting or amending a will. If you have questions or concerns related to the validity of a loved one’s will or concerning other estate planning matters, an attorney can answer questions, provide guidance and represent your and a loved one’s best interests.