Common Grounds for Challenging a Will

Wills | September 28, 2023 | Written by Natasha Nair

A will is a legally binding document that outlines how a person’s assets and estate will be distributed after passing; however, there are instances when the validity or fairness of a will is called into question, leading to a legal process known as challenging a will. This process involves contesting the provisions of a will based on specific grounds. Understanding these grounds can shed light on the complexities of estate law and the potential issues that may arise. As experts in wills, estates, and trusts, the team at Linley Welwood understands the importance of ensuring that a loved one’s final wishes are respected. That is why we have compiled important information on common grounds for challenging a will.

Learn about the importance of beneficiary designations.

1. Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Determining testamentary capacity includes understanding the value and nature of assets, appreciating those who may have potential claims on the estate, and being capable of making rational decisions. Lack of testamentary capacity means that the testator was not of sound mind when making the will. This could be due to mental illness, dementia, or any other condition impairing their ability to understand and make decisions regarding their assets.

2. Undue Influence

A will is only valid if it represents the genuine intentions of the testator. If it is proven that someone exerted undue influence over the testator, coercing them into making decisions against their true wishes, the will can be challenged. Such influence often arises when a person in a position of power or trust manipulates the testator to benefit themselves. To prove this ground, it must be demonstrated that coercion or manipulation was involved, resulting in an unfair distribution of assets.

3. Forgery and Fraud

A will can be invalidated if it is proven forged or fraudulently created. Forgery is when someone creates a fake document or signature with dishonest intent, while fraud involves intentionally deceiving others for personal gain. These actions can occur during the creation or alteration of the will, including falsely witnessing signatures or misrepresenting facts about assets or beneficiaries. Any fraudulent or deceptive actions that compromise the will’s authenticity can lead to its challenge. It is important to note that these challenges require solid proof and should not be taken lightly.

4. Proper Execution Requirements

A will must meet specific criteria for validity. This includes ensuring that the testator is mentally competent, over 19 years old, and has signed their will before two witnesses who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries. If these conditions are not met, it opens the door to potential challenges to the will’s validity.

5. Disinheritance Claims and Unfair Distribution

Claims related to being disinherited and inequitable asset distribution can also serve as reasons for contesting a will. These cases involve considering the legal rights of individuals who have a rightful entitlement to inherit, like spouses and children. It is essential to assess whether proper provision has been made for these individuals and if their exclusion from the will is justified. Unjust allocation of assets could encompass scenarios where one beneficiary gains significantly more than others or if distribution stems from unjust motives, such as bias or prejudice.


If you have any questions about our services or the specifics of your will, feel free to contact us at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and are here to assist you with any inquiries regarding wills.

We give you the personal attention you deserve.Schedule a Consult

Schedule a consultation.

    Please fill in all required fields as indicated with a red star.