When a person in New Jersey dies, he or she may have left behind a will that dictates who is to inherit his or her assets. While most of the time the terms of the person’s will are followed, there are instances in which estate litigation is pursued by an heir who believes the will should be invalidated. In general, there are four grounds on which a person can challenge a will.
One ground for contesting a will is that the testator did not follow the necessary laws when signing the will. For example, there may not have been enough witnesses, or the witnesses may not have been in the presence of one another when signing the will.
Another ground for contesting a will is that the testator did not have the capacity to sign the will, meaning that he or she did not have a full understanding of the value of his or her assets or who the heirs are. In sum, to have testamentary capacity, a person must understand the legal effect of executing a will.
A third ground for contesting a will is that the testator was subject to undue influence. This means that the influencer pressured the testator to execute a will under severe duress, so that the provisions of the will were not made under the testator’s own free will.
Finally, a person may contest a will based on fraud. Fraud takes place when the testator was tricked into signing a will. For example, they may have been told that the will they were signing was actually a different type of document.
As this shows, it is not enough to contest a will simply because you do not like its terms or you do not think it is fair. There are specific grounds upon which one can challenge a will, and in general they can be difficult to prove. Thus, those who wish to challenge a will may benefit from seeking legal advice so that they can determine whether it is worthwhile to pursue such action.