Since wills are typically taken as the direct wishes of the person who created it, most go through the probate process without any issues. In fact, some statistics put the number as high as 99 percent. However, that doesn't mean that contesting a will is a waste of time. There are circumstances in which a will might not be considered valid. If the courts see the will as invalid, parts of it (or all of it) could be thrown out.
So how do you know when it's worth it to challenge a will? There are a few red flags to look for:
- Testamentary capacity. Was the person of age when they signed the will? If so, were they intoxicated, suffering from a mental illness or showing signs of dementia?
- Undue influence. Did someone else pressure the decedent to sign? In other words, was the will drafted and signed under complete free will?
- Newer wills. Did the decedent make a will after the one being used in probate?
- Errors in the Will. Every state is different, but there are guidelines that must be met for a will to be considered valid. Did the will name a personal representative? Did it leave property to an heir? Does it state in no uncertain terms that it is the will of the person who drafted it?
Challenging a will successfully is a tough process. That's why it may be a good idea to have an experienced probate attorney by your side to help you every step of the way.