Understanding a Will Contest in WV
A will is an estate planning document that acts to ensure a person’s wishes are followed and that desired property transfers are carried out after the person dies. In West Virginia (WV), there are many important factors to consider when ensuring the proper documentation is in place and validly executed. First and foremost, to prevent a will contest in WV, careful estate planning is key to ensure that the will is valid. If estate planning documents are poorly executed and the document is challenged, a will contest may result.
Common Grounds for a Will Contest in WV
A person who decides to file a will contest in WV may do so for any number of reasons. For example, he or she may not be satisfied with the designated inheritance. Another common reason will contests are filed is that family members fear their deceased loved one did not execute the document in question freely and voluntarily.
These scenarios (and countless others) can lead to a will contest in WV, whether or not the challenge is reasonable or is likely to succeed. Here are some of the most common reasons for contesting a will:
The individual’s mental capacity in question at the time the will was executed.
This is one factor that may lead to a will contest. Those under the age of 18 legally lack the capacity to execute a valid will. For those over the age of 18, the challenger in a will contest in WV must prove that the testator did not understand the consequences of his or her decisions in executing the document in question. This is known as a lack of mental capacity. To prove capacity, a person must understand the extent and value of the relevant property, who the beneficiaries are, the property disposition made by the will, and how these elements relate to one another.
The document was not properly executed according to WV legal requirements.
This can include the document not having been witnessed properly and the will failing to contain certain provisions legally required to be included. Not every jurisdiction maintains a strict execution requirement, but an experienced WV will contest attorney can often provide evidence in a legal proceeding that a will was (or was not) executed properly.
There is evidence of fraud, forgery, coercion, or deception.
This usually involves some claim of undue influence over the individual by a third party who benefits from a provision contained in the document. When this argument is made in a will contest in WV, it is also generally accompanied by evidence that the testator lacked free will due to improper influence.
Need help bringing or defending a will contest in WV?
While these are some common challenges to a will or other estate planning document, others exist. If you are seeking a dedicated, experienced lawyer to evaluate an existing or potential will contest in WV, contact the attorneys of Hendrickson & Long at 304-346-5500 today to discuss your rights and any options available to you by law. We proudly serve clients throughout WV, Kentucky (KY), and Pennsylvania (PA).