What are the reasons people could contest a will?

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Estate Litigation

When an individual dies, they may have left behind a plan for what to do with their belongings and estate. Their will typically outlines how to distribute their assets among their loved ones.

However, there are instances where beneficiaries may feel compelled to contest the contents of a will.

Lack of capacity

One reason for contesting a will is the belief that the dead person was not mentally capable of making good decisions when they created the will. This could stem from factors such as old age, illness or cognitive impairment.

Undue influence

Sometimes, someone might argue that another person forced the one who died to write the will a certain way, this is also known as undue influence. This could mean using threats or tricking them into doing it. When this happens, it is not fair to the person who died, and beneficiaries might want to change things.

Fraudulent activity

Fraudulent activity surrounding the creation or execution of a will is another reason to contest it. This could include instances where people forged signatures, provided false information or tampered with documents to benefit certain people unfairly.

Ambiguity or inconsistencies

If a will is confusing or has mistakes, it could cause arguments. Words that are not clear or different versions of the will can make it hard to know what the person really wanted.


When individuals face exclusion from a will or receive a disproportionately small share of the estate, they may choose to contest the document. This could stem from feelings of betrayal or a belief that the exclusion was not fair.

Improper execution

For a will to be legally valid, it must meet certain requirements regarding its execution, such as a signing in the presence of witnesses. If no one followed these procedures correctly, the will could be invalid.

While most wills aim to be fair, they sometimes lead to disagreements. Issues like the ones above can cause stress and delay when it comes to probate.