In the aftermath of a loved one’s passing, the distribution of their assets through a will should ideally bring closure and unity to a family.
However, reality often unfolds differently, with family members contesting wills for various reasons.
1. Unequal distribution of assets
When a will seemingly favors one heir over another, it can sow seeds of resentment and discord within a family. Unequal distribution may result from a variety of factors, including personal relationships, perceived closeness or even unintentional oversights. Family members may contest a will, arguing that the deceased’s true intentions were not accurately reflected.
2. Lack of capacity or undue influence
Another reason for contesting a will is the assertion that the deceased lacked the mental capacity to make sound decisions or that external forces unduly influenced them. If family members believe that coercion or manipulation resulted in the altering of a will, they may challenge its validity. This claim often arises when the deceased was vulnerable, such as due to age or health issues, raising doubts about the authenticity of their decisions.
3. Ambiguities in the will
Sometimes, the language used in a will may be ambiguous, leaving room for interpretation. Family members may contest a will if they believe the terms are unclear or open to multiple interpretations. Ambiguities can lead to confusion and disagreements, prompting some heirs to question the true intentions of the deceased. In such cases, legal battles may ensue to determine the intended meaning of the will.
While your loved one was one of the 34% of Americans who thought ahead and had an estate plan, that does not mean a person cannot contest it. Understanding the underlying reasons can shed light on the intricate dynamics that unfold within families during times of loss.