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Why might a person contest a will?

People in Salisbury who create a will have very personal reasons for doing so. They may have very specific preferences about which heirs are to inherit which assets. However, while the testator may have nothing but good intentions with regard to their will, when they pass away, their heirs may view things very differently. They may believe that the provisions in the will do not accurately reflect the testator's wishes.

When this happens, an heir may choose to contest the will. In such proceedings, the heir may seek to render part or all of the will void. There are numerous grounds upon which to base a will contest.

One reason to challenge a will is to claim the testator lacked the mental capacity to create a will because the testator had dementia, was drunk, was senile or otherwise couldn't understand what they were doing. To create a will, the testator needs to know how much they have in assets and what they are worth, who they are leaving their assets to and what having a will means.

In addition, if an heir can show the testator only executed a will because of undue influence or fraud, the will is not valid. In general, this takes place if the testator is vulnerable and has been manipulated by another person to leave most of their assets to that person. In essence, the testator did not have the free will necessary to create a will that represented their true wishes.

Another argument heirs may make is that there is a new will that takes precedence over the one at issue. If an heir can show a new, valid will exists that was executed after the one at issue, the court may deem the old will invalid.

Heirs should keep in mind that contesting a will through estate litigation can be very difficult. Unless there is a compelling reason for doing so, most wills will not be invalidated. This is because a will expresses the sole voice of a person who is no longer around to state what their preferences are regarding the distribution of their assets. However, if sufficient grounds exist to show why a will should not be followed, the court may deem the will invalid, and the testator's assets will be distributed per the laws of intestate succession.

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Kluttz Reamer

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Kluttz, Reamer, Hayes, Adkins & Carter, L.L.P.
129 North Main Street
Salisbury, NC 28144

Phone: 704-216-4012
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