Grounds for invalidating a will
The attorney who prepared the will has an interest in defending the integrity of the will almost always testify that the will properly stated the wishes of the decedent.
Certain evidence rules may prevent the admission of testimony regarding conversations between the deceased and persons making a claim that the will is invalid.
However, the most common grounds alleged are undue influence and lack of capacity to make a will.
A court will find that undue influence exists when such influence prevents the person making the will from exercising his own free will in the disposition of his estate.
Anyone contesting a will on grounds of lack of capacity has the burden of proving that the deceased was not of sound mind.
The proof must relate to a time at or near the signing of the will since the will may only be invalidated if it is proven that the person lacked testamentary capacity at the time the will was signed.
Often the executor of the estate is in possession of evidence that demonstrates the reasons why the person challenging the will was excluded from its terms.
For example, the executor may have proof that the person excluded from the will received substantial benefits during the lifetime of the decedent or that the person contesting the will had a poor relationship with the decedent.
This could even include persons who were named in a prior will that would become effective if the current will is determined to be invalid.This is a huge hurdle when the claim is based upon promises made by the decedent to the person contesting the will.The person contesting the will has the burden of proving that the will was invalid.The courts strictly enforce the requirement of standing.
A will may be invalidated because there was undue influence exerted on the person making the will.Once the presumption of undue influence is made by the court, the burden falls on the person who allegedly exercised undue influence to prove that the will was not a result of undue influence.