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Do you have a compelling reason to doubt your loved one's will?

Did other family members and friends accuse you of grumbling about your inheritance, or the lack thereof, after the death of a loved one? They might not have the information or doubts that you do about the validity of the last will and testament of your loved one. Doubts aren't enough to question the will legally, however.

In order to file a contest to the will, you need more than mere suspicion or theories. Contesting a will requires a commitment of your time and resources. The process often complicates personal relationships, but if you believe you are right, it could be worth it. You need convincing evidence of the fact that the will is invalid in order for the court to declare it invalid.

What do you need to prove?

A last will and testament may be challenged based on one of four grounds. If you can prove that the will is invalid based on one or more of the following circumstances, the court could rule that it's invalid:

  • Improper execution: New Jersey law requires that your loved one have signed the will under particular circumstances. If the will fails to meet those guidelines, then the will might not be valid.
  • Lack of capacity: If the person signing failed to understand the legalities of signing the will, who should inherit the assets or even what assets made up the estate, he or she may have lacked the capacity to sign a will.
  • Undue influence: If someone put extreme pressure on your loved one to change the provisions of the will or sign a will that your loved one disagreed with, the will might be invalid. In most of the cases where undue influence rendered a will invalid, the influencer isolated the decedent, spoke to the attorney about the will's provisions and possibly even paid for it.
  • Fraud: Your loved one was tricked into signing a will without his or her knowledge.

As you can see, each of these grounds presents different challenges for those contesting a will. If you believe that the circumstances under which your loved one signed a will fit into one of these categories, you would more than likely benefit from talking to an attorney.

Gathering the appropriate evidence to prove your claim under any of these circumstances could be challenging. Attempting to do so without adequate help would more than likely result in great expense and frustration. Having the assistance of an estate litigation attorney could increase your chances of proving your case.

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