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What you need to know before contesting a will

Many people in Massachusetts may feel as if a relative's will has left them without the inheritance they deserve. According to FindLaw, proving that there is a problem with the document the deceased created may be difficult unless there is a will that has a later date and was obviously written with the intent to replace the first. However, that does not mean someone in a different circumstance is unlikely to succeed.

Consumer Reports notes that a person can challenge the will if he or she has a stake in the outcome. This may be someone who is in the will, in a former version of the will, or a natural heir such as a child or spouse. A testator cannot necessarily disinherit a husband or wife, so spouses may have an easier time claiming a portion of the estate and waiving the contents of the document. 

One of the main grounds for contesting a will is incompetence of the testator. The person who wants to prove this must typically have medical records showing that mental incapacitation was a factor. Having witnesses such as mental health or medical providers ready to attest to the incompetence may also help the case.

The other situation that may provide grounds for a challenge is undue influence. For example, often, elderly people require a caregiver to help them with self-care or daily tasks, and that proximity could create a bond. An unethical person may exploit this relationship to put pressure on the testator to change the will in his or her favor. However, there must be evidence that the free will of the deceased was compromised because of the persuasion of the other person.


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