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Should I challenge my parents’ will?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2020 | Estate Administration, Estate Administration/Probate |

When your parents get older, they become more vulnerable. More vulnerable to scams, to those looking to defraud them of money and to those wanting to influence their financial decisions. When your parent dies, you may discover that your mom changed her will: to give her longtime caregiver nearly all her assets. You may wonder if that’s what she truly wanted, especially as she struggled with dementia for the last few years of her life.

If you are thinking about challenging your parent’s will, you need to understand the circumstances when the court will invalidate a will. Those include the following:

  1. When your parent’s will wasn’t signed following your state’s rules. For example, Illinois requires two witnesses sign someone’s will. If only one witness signed your parent’s will, that is a problem.
  2. Your parent didn’t have the testamentary capacity to sign the will. This means your parent didn’t have the capacity to understand the decisions they made when changing their will. They didn’t understand how those decisions would impact others. While you may think your mother’s dementia means she didn’t have testamentary capacity to change her will, that’s not always the case. She may have understood what she was changing at the time.
  3. Someone influenced your parent to change their will in an improper manner. Perhaps, a family caregiver pushed your parent to give them more assets in the will. Yet proving undue influence isn’t easy. It has to go beyond just nagging, making threats or verbally abusing someone.
  4. The will was created through fraud. This means your parent signed the will not realizing it was a will. Perhaps, your mother thought she was signing a deed to her home, but it was a will. That’s fraud.

If you feel you need to contest your parent’s will, you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can evaluate if you have the grounds to contest your loved one’s will, which can be a lengthy and complicated process.