Grounds for contesting a will

Written by erika johansen
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Grounds for contesting a will
There are a number of grounds to contest a will. (signing a contract image by William Berry from

The law establishes many rules to execute a valid will. An interested party may challenge the will by claiming violation of one of these rules. Those with specific questions about will contests should consult an estate law attorney.

Execution Formalities

The formalities needed to execute a valid will vary by jurisdiction. However, most jurisdictions generally require the crucial parts of the will to be in writing, the will to be signed by its creator, and at least two witnesses to the signing who stand to gain nothing from the will. Lack of these formalities may render the will invalid.


Any gift in a will that results from the use of fraud will be held invalid. Fraud in this context means a knowingly false representation of a significant fact by the party who receives the gift.

Capacity Problems

For a will to be valid, the creating party must have the legal capacity to make a will. Typically, legal capacity means that the creator has reached the age of eighteen, and is capable of understanding that he is making a will.

Undue Influence

Will gifts are invalid if induced by undue influence. Undue influence means that the gift's recipient actively played on a mental or physical weakness of the will's creator.


Some jurisdictions' courts will strike provisions from a will, or invalidate the entire document, if the will's provision resulted from a mistake, or if the will's creator signed the wrong will.

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