Wills contain the final exertion of the human will and heart. They reflect an individual’s last wishes and care for friends, family and other parties.
However, if not iron-clad, wills can face contestation and overturning. There are various grounds on which others may fight a will, but there are also ways to protect wills.
One common reason for contesting a will is the claim that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. To safeguard against this, individuals can show that they were in their right mind when writing the will by explaining their intent in advance to those in the will.
They can also leave behind letters or videos containing their justification, witnessed by trusted friends or acquaintances who gain nothing from the will. By adding no-contest clauses or token amounts, individuals can also combat individuals they suspect may contest their wills.
It is also important to use clear language in the will. Ambiguous wording can leave room for contesters to argue against the intentions of the writer.
Some people may argue that the testator wrote the will under undue influence, leading to changes in the will that may not align with his or her true intentions. To prevent this, having witnesses sign and notarize the will can be helpful. This will also help avoid charges of fraud or forgery.
According to CNBC, in 2022 only about a third of Americans had an estate plan. Keeping an updated will and estate plan helps individuals care for their loved ones even after passing and distribute their possessions the way they want to. Through a few precautions, they can help protect their will from contestation.