A will is an effective estate planning tool a person can use to outline their last wishes before their death. It is a legal document, and while it should be valid and legally enforceable, that does not necessarily mean you cannot challenge it. If you have a legitimate reason and right to question the will your loved one left behind, you can contest it.
People who have the legal right to contest a will are those who will or have the potential to benefit from it. It could be a beneficiary or a would-be beneficiary, basically anyone whose life could be directly affected by the will.
What are the reasons for challenging a will?
A testator is a person who owns and creates a will. A will allows the testator to assign an executor to administer the will and designate the people who will benefit from it or not. Before an executor can carry out the instructions in the will, the probate process must validate the last will and testament. If you are a beneficiary or have the legitimate right to the estate, here are reasons you might want to challenge a will:
- You believe the testator was under duress when they created the will
- The testator may not have been mentally competent at the time they made the will
- The testator could have been under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances
- The will is not legally valid
- You have reason to believe the will is fraudulent
North Dakota has specific laws to determine the validity of a will. It needs witnesses. The testator must be of legal age. The testator must be of sound mind and body before signing a will. If you suspect another beneficiary influenced the provisions and conditions in the will, you have all the right to challenge it.
Do you want to contest the will?
After reviewing the reasons above, you may have finally decided to challenge the will in probate court. States have a statute of limitations describing when and how a person can do so. You might want to act immediately but do not do so recklessly. You must file a petition and gather evidence to support your grounds for contestation.
You have already lost a loved one. You would not want their legacy tarnished by the undue influence of another person, even when that person is your own family.