Any heir or beneficiary has the right to challenge or contest your will. This means that he or she is arguing that there is one reason or another why the will should not be classified as legally valid in a probate sense.
An individual coming forward to contest the will has the responsibility of the burden of proof. This means that such an individual has to show the reasons why the will should not be admitted to probate. One of the most common reasons for a will contest is alleging incompetence. The person who is writing a will has to be mentally competent and at least 18 years old.
There are several different factors that courts use to evaluate whether or not the person was competent at the time of drafting his or her will. These include whether or not a person:
- Understands that he or she is indeed creating a will.
- Knows the individuals who would typically be named as beneficiaries within that will.
- Understands the full value and extent of his or her property.
- Understands how property will be passed on to the beneficiaries in his or her will.
In the event that a will challenge emerges, expert witnesses will frequently be used in order to testify as to the person’s mental competency at the time of creating the will. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you avoid some of these challenges. A Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can help you think through all the options when it comes to estate planning.