Will Contest

Will Contest

A will may be contested after the death of the will maker. The the most common challenge is the will maker lacked capacity to sign the will or was influenced unduely by a third party.

At trial, defense of the will requireds proof that the will maker was compentent. Often deposition or affidavit testimony of at least two witnesses in the signing of the will are proferred.

Undue influence Contestants questioning the validity of a will due to mental capacity often point to undue 
influence as a reason for invalidity.

Relevant factors may  include:
  • the nature of the relationship between the will maker and the person purportedly exercising the influence.
  • whether the person execersing the influence was involved in the planning and execution of the will
  • whether the will maker as susceptible to undue influence; and 
  • if the will maker made a testamentary gift to the person exerecising the influence was unnatural.

Evidence Typically Use at Trial
To Prove Compentency

To prove mental capacity, the proponent may use many types of documentary evidence and witness' testimony,  including 
  • medical and hospital records
  • Ltters and personal correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Evidence of character or habit
  •  Layperson witness to establish will maker's behavior at time of signing will
Expert Witness

Doctors and health care professional can testify  on medical examinations finding and on other documentary evidence such as witness depositions.

Reasons Why Court Permits Evidence [Admissibility]

Medical records may be admissible as hearsay exception. Personal correspondence is authenticated as the will maker's signiture. Evidence of will-maker's habits is admissible but generally not to show the person's character. Observation of the will maker's behavior and events that transpired around time of signing the will are probative. Conversations with the will maker are probative of state of mind